As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) continues to cast doubt about his ability to lead a credible probe into the Trump campaign's alleged connections with Russia, a Democratic congressman has called for "a total and complete shutdown" of the president's agenda until the FBI finishes its investigation into the matter.
In his statement issued Thursday, the same day CNN reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that the FBI has information showing associates of President Donald Trump communicated with "suspected Russian operatives," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) also questions the legitimacy of the president and calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged collusion.
Referring to the CNN reporting, which came the same week as FBI Director James Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that there is an "open and ongoing" investigation into possible links, Lieu states: "The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded withe the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House.”
"Other than allowing routine governmental functions, there must be a total and complete shutdown of any agenda item being pushed by the Trump Administration. Congress cannot continue regular order and must stop voting on any Trump-backed agenda item until the FBI completes its Trump-Russia collusion investigation,” he continues.
"Congress must immediately form an independent commission and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the collusion allegations with impartiality and independence. Congress also needs to pass the Resolution of Inquiry, authored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and I, to compel the Trump Administration to publicly disclose information on its Russian ties to the American people. At this point in our nation's history, there is nothing more important than finding out whether or not high crimes were committed by associates of Donald Trump or possibly by Trump himself," the statement concludes.
Lieu is far from alone in his call.
In a message posted this week to his Instagram account, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore said that the Trump "has no legitimacy until the FBI—and an independent investigative committee" complete probes into possible Russian connections. He added: "The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate needs to bring a halt to all business being done in the name of this potential felony suspect, Donald J. Trump. No bill he supports, no Supreme Court nominee he has named, can be decided while he is under a criminal investigation."
And a petition hosted by MoveOn.org asks: "How can Congress, in good conscience, agree to further Trump's agenda amid such serious allegations regarding possible illegal collusion with Russia? The answer is simple: It can't."
Echoing Moore and Lieu, it goes on to say that "with so much yet unknown, Congress cannot consider Trump's agenda, especially the lifetime [Supreme Court] appointment of Neil Gorsuch," adding: "That's why it's imperative that Congress halt every piece of the Trump agenda—and that the Senate heed [New York] Sen. [Chuck] Schumer's call to stop Supreme Court confirmation hearings—until a full and independent investigation has been conducted."
As for committee chair Nunes, he should also be the target of a probe, according to the Washington Post editorial board, which wrote that during his Wednesday press conference, "he cited a confidential source to describe what clearly appeared to be classified information about intercepted communications involving Trump associates. He did this outside the White House, where he had rushed to brief the president about the intercepts—even though the House Intelligence Committee he chairs is supposed to be investigating the Trump campaign's possible connections with Russia."
The editorial was written just hours before Nunes' press conference on Friday, during which, "with a series of elliptical statements, he suggested that on Wednesday he had gone off half-cocked," as one observer put it.
Nunes "backed down from his dramatic assertion that Donald Trump and his aides were 'monitored' by U.S. spies—a claim the Republicans have cited this week in fundraising emails," as NBC News wrote. He also would not say how he had learned about the intercepted information, "including whether his source was in the White House," the outlet added.
Politico notes that Nunes also
canceled a public hearing on Tuesday with members of the Obama administration to discuss Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
Scheduled to testify were former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff (Calif.), said Friday in his own press conference that the cancellation was "a serious mistake" and an "attempt to choke off public information."