House intel panel to hear from top officials on Russia probe

Devin Nunes

A planned closed hearing with Comey and Rogers, who had testified publicly on March 20, also was put off. Mike Conaway, (R-Texas), invited FBI Director Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers of the National Security Agency to testify behind closed doors on May 2, and requested former CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Yates to appear in public before the panel at a later date.

On Friday, the panel said that it sent a letter inviting the former Obama administration officials on Thursday to an open hearing that would be scheduled after May 2.

The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation exploring how Russian Federation covertly sought to influence the American presidential election on Trump's behalf.

The top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff of California, had demanded Nunes step aside from the investigation, saying Nunes had compromised the integrity of the committee's work. At the time, Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating whether President Donald Trump's associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election. Nunes was an early backer of Trump during the campaign and served on his transition team. His decision two days after the public hearing to hold a press conference about the information and discuss it with Trump before disclosing it to Democrats raised questions about whether he could lead a credible investigation.

Nunes withdrew from the committee's broad investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as he faced a series of ethics complaints charging that he revealed classified information without authorization. In the ensuing days, Trump administration officials accused Russia of failing to uphold its end of an agreement to strip Syria of its chemical weapons stores and said Russian officials were attempting to cover up Syria's responsibility for the chemical attack.

An attorney for Yates alleged that the Justice Department was guidance on what Yates could say about conversations she had with Trump - conversations the department indicated could be covered by executive privilege, then deferred to the White House, according to published correspondance.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting a separate, similar investigation.

In January, US intelligence chiefs said Russian President Vladimir Putin had masterminded the hacking and disinformation campaign that aimed to damage Trump's rival Hillary Clinton and tip the vote in favor of the real estate magnate.

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