Rep. Speier: House Intel Chair Devin Nunes 'an Agent of the President'

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Rep. Jackie Speier during a 2014 interview.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call-Getty Images)

Peninsula Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) is calling on Central Valley Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Clovis) to step down as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and be stripped of his membership on the panel.

Nunes should not have a role in the committee's investigation into Russia's influence on the 2016 presidential election, said Speier, who sits on the panel, in an interview Friday.

"He has been totally co-opted by the White House," Speier said. ... "I think he's become an agent of the president."

The remarks came a day after the New York Times reported that two White House officials helped provide Nunes with intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. spy agencies.

Nunes then discussed the reports with Trump, who had earlier claimed that he was wiretapped during the presidential campaign on orders from President Obama.


Nunes has refused to step down. On Friday, he was expected to deliver remarks at the annual meeting of the Ag Lenders Society of California in Fresno. The event is closed to the press but has drawn protests.

Earlier this week, Nunes was asked by reporters if he would continue leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the election.

"Why would I not," Nunes answered. "We're doing a very thorough job on this investigation."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the committee chairman's communication with Trump officials during his daily briefing on Friday.

"What occurred in Chairman Nunes in coming here was both routine and proper," Spicer said.

Meanwhile, the president's top lawyer has invited Republican and Democratic lawmakers to view classified information at the White House.

But, to Speier, the whole affair has been a waste of time.

"Let's remember where we are. This emanated from a Saturday morning, unsupervised tweet by the president," Speier said.

Trump attributed the claim to comments he heard from an analyst on Fox News.

"For the next two weeks all that we were focused on was whether or not there was wiretapping," Speier said.

FBI Director James Comey, during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, said there was no evidence of such surveillance.

"At some point we have got to recognize that the president and persons within his administration and now the chair of the Intelligence Committee are willing to lie," Speier said.

Reports also surfaced Thursday that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was negotiating with the House and Senate intelligence committees to testify about any Trump campaign dealings with Russia after he would be given immunity from prosecution.

While committee officials have rebuffed that offer, the panels want to talk to Flynn about meetings he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump was inaugurated and before Flynn was legally allowed to conduct foreign policy, among other ethical issues.

Flynn must be requesting immunity because he's violated the law, according to Speier.

"This goose-chase that we've been on is preventing us from doing our work," she said. "There is a serious problem when Russia was able to intervene in our election and probably had a profound impact on it."

KQED's Brian Watt contributed to this report.