Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Monday addressed his non-recusal from the House Intelligent Committee’s investigation into Russia hacking and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign, arguing, “I can do whatever I want.”
“I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee,” Nunes said, according to CNN. “I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.”
In April, Nunes said he would step aside from the Russia probe after the House ethics committee opened in investigation into his handling of classified information. Nunes briefly derailed the House Russia probe when held a press conference to discuss sensitive information that purported to show the Obama administration “unmasked” members of the Trump transition team through routine, legal surveillance. Trump would later say that press conference made him feel “somewhat” vindicated for his baseless claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.
“When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in,” Nunes said.
“Every decision I make is my own,” he continued. “I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion—which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.”
Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, argued he never recused himself from the probe in the first place.
“I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all,” Nunes said. “That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.”
“I don’t complain about anything, because this is a tough business,” he added. “But I know that I’ve been telling the truth the entire time, you can’t go back and find anything that I’ve misled you on.”