Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) may still be directing his own investigation into leaks related to Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, even after stepping aside during an ethics inquiry.
Two congressional staffers traveled to London last month — reportedly at the direction of a longtime aide to Nunes — to question former British spy Christopher Steele about a memo he wrote about Trump campaign ties to Russia, reported The Guardian.
Politico first reported their visit Friday, saying the two GOP staffers left their contact information at the office of Steele’s attorney and then with another associate.
Steele was meeting with his counsel at the law office when the congressional staffers made a surprise visit — and Senate investigators were worried their actions will spook the former spy out of cooperating with the probe.
“It was an intelligence committee trip although going to meet with the lawyer was not the sole purpose of the trip,” said one congressional official. “They were also there on other committee business. Them being sent to meet with the lawyers was at the behest of the committee staff director.”
Damon Nelson, staff director for the House intelligence committee, served as Nunes’ deputy chief of staff from 2003 to 2014, and he then served as a senior adviser to the California Republican for a year.
Nunes stepped aside from overseeing the Russia probe in April after the House ethics panel opened an investigation into whether the lawmaker leaked classified information in an attempt to discredit the Obama administration.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) took over the House intelligence probe, but the panel’s ranking Democrat accused Nunes of continuing to intervene in the investigation.
Democratic lawmakers were angry they hadn’t been consulted about the two staffers’ London trip, while Republicans have accused their colleagues of maintaining back-channel contacts with Steele about the explosive, 35-page dossier.
Steele’s unverified dossier circulated in Washington prior to the election and was published shortly before Inauguration Day.
The former MI6 officer was contracted during the campaign by the U.S.-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into Donald Trump’s background, and he found evidence that the GOP campaign cooperated with Russia.