Chris Christie on Nunes: recusal is a 'personal decision'
As House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes faces growing calls to step aside from the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie admitted he didn't agree with Nunes' actions but said recusal is a "personal decision."
The calls for Nunes to recuse himself began after it was revealed that he had visited the White House grounds last week to meet an unnamed source the day before publicly sharing details about surveillance that "incidentally collected" information on associates of President Donald Trump. Nunes' prior role in Trump's transition team has added to concerns that he can't conduct an impartial investigation.
"Wouldn’t have been the way I would’ve done things, but I don't know whether that means he has to recuse himself," Christie said on "Good Morning America" today. "That's a personal decision the congressman has to make on his own."
Top Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as well as the House Intelligence Committee's ranking member, Adam Schiff, all called for Nunes' removal from the House investigation on Monday. Even some Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, questioned Nunes' actions.
"That’s a very, very personal decision about what congressman Nunes thinks is best to do for him, his constituents and the good of the investigation," Christie told "GMA."
"I think we’re over blowing how much personal recusal matters," he added. "Congressman Nunes will make his own judgment in his own time."
Nunes said on Tuesday he has "no idea" why Democrats would call for him to step aside from the investigation.
Nunes raised eyebrows when he held an unexpected press conference on March 22 and then briefed the president -- before making members of his committee aware -- that information about Trump's transition team, and possibly the president himself, had been "incidentally collected" after the election in November. Alhough Nunes maintained that the intelligence gathering was conducted legally, it prompted Trump -- who claimed his predecessor, President Barack Obama, "had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower" -- to say he felt "somewhat" vindicated.
Nunes defended himself in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Monday, arguing that his visit to the White House grounds on March 21 was commonplace and part of an investigation into the unmasking of Americans in intelligence reports that began before Trump's wiretapping claims.
"I had been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for and I could actually get access to what I needed to see," said Nunes, adding, "It wasn't at night ... nobody was sneaking around, all it was was just a place where I had to go to be able to review this information."
Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting separate investigations on any possible collusion between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign, while FBI Director James Comey said his agency is leading its own inquiry into the matter.
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