Rep. Adam Schiff Thursday praised House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' decision to step aside from the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and connections with President Donald Trump's camp.
"I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for him, but as he mentioned, I think it is in the best interests of the investigation," Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said in comments after Nunes' announcement. "It will, I think, allow us to have a fresh start moving forward."
According to Politico, the Russia investigation will be taken over by GOP Reps. Michael Conaway, Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, and Schiff said he is looking forward to working with Conaway.
"This investigation, I think, is of such critical importance that we need to get fully back on track," the California Democrat told reporters. "It is worth noting that the investigation never went into hiatus. We've been continuing to develop our witness lists, to work out some of the logistics in terms of how we bring people before the committee, what the process will be."
In addition, the committee is continuing to go through the documents Nunes viewed at the White House, said Schiff.
A complaint has been filed against Nunes with the Office of Congressional Ethics by activist groups saying he had improperly disclosed classified information after he viewed documents at the White House concerning surveillance, claims Nunes Thursday called "entirely false and politically motivated."
Schiff said he's seen the documents and they are now being made available to the full committee, which he considers "a very positive step."
He also said he is looking forward to working with the committee, which Nunes will still head.
Earlier on Thursday, before Nunes chose to recuse himself, Schiff told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that the Russia investigation has gone too far to be dropped, and it doesn't require him to have trust or lack of trust in President Donald Trump.
"I can tell you that I find it enormously distressing that the commander in chief will level accusations against President [Barack] Obama committing a crime and now [former national security adviser] Susan Rice," said Schiff.
Schiff Thursday morning also commented on the decision to remove chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council was a "very positive step," Rep. Adam Schiff said Thursday.
"He certainly introduced a political element that doesn't belong there," the California Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee commented during an MSNBC's "Morning Joe" interview. "From my own point of view, he doesn't belong in the White House, either. This is I hope a first and very positive step."
The decision also shows that national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is getting the authority he was promised about making his personnel decisions, said Schiff.
"I hope it will result in a policy less focused on blaming [Obama] for things," said Schiff, and will allow more concentration on the decisions needed on Syria.
He said he hopes Trump is asking McMaster about his options, including for diplomacy and the legal basis to use force.
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