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National Govt & Politics
Nunes steps aside from House probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections
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Nunes steps aside from House probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections

Nunes steps aside from House probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Nunes steps aside from House probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections

Under fire for his review of intelligence documents at the White House that paralyzed the work of his panel, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced on Thursday that he would step aside as the leader of a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, appointing a team of three other GOP lawmakers to lead that investigation, while Nunes is investigated for possibly leaking classified information.

In a written statement, Nunes decried ethics charges leveled against him by "leftwing activist groups," saying charges of wrongdoing were "entirely false and politically motivated."

"I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter," Nunes said.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

Not long after issuing his statement, the House Ethics Committee confirmed that it was going to review whether Nunes had made "unauthorized disclosures of classified information."

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Jamie Dupree

In his own statement, Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed the move, and the decision to have Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) lead the investigation.

"I am confident that he will oversee a professional investigation into Russia’s actions and follow the facts wherever they lead," Ryan said.

Democrats said Nunes made the right choice.

"Good," was the simple tweet from Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).

"An important step in the right direction," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who like other Democrats have called for an independent probe.

"Nunes showed he was incapable of overseeing an independent investigation," Nadler added.

Today's developments stemmed from the events of a few weeks ago, when Nunes suddenly revealed that he had been given secret intelligence documents, as he announced that to reporters, and then dashed to the White House to brief President Trump.

In his remarks that day on Capitol Hill and at the White House, some thought that Nunes seemed to reveal classified information, as he confirmed the existence of a FISA wiretap - that drew outside ethics complaints, and now brings an official review from the Ethics Committee.

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News

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  • A Monday morning British Airways flight scheduled to fly from London, England, to Dusseldorf, Germany, accidentally went to Edinburgh, Scotland, instead. >> Read more trending news  The error has been attributed to an incorrect flight plan filed by WDL Aviation, which operated the flight on behalf of British Airways, USA Today reported. This led the pilot and cabin crew to believe the flight was bound for Edinburgh. Air traffic controllers followed the same flight plan and saw nothing amiss, British Airways officials told The Associated Press. Zsófia Szabó, a passenger on the flight, told CNN she noticed something may have been amiss when she saw mountains outside the cabin window instead of the “usual German landscape.” A coworker brought up Google Maps on their phone, she said, and noted the plane was in Scotland. 'When we landed there was a bit of a hilarious moment when the flight attendant asked for a show of hands for the people going to Dusseldorf, which turned out to be everyone,' Szabó said. The pilot apologized to passengers, then announced the plane would refuel and head to Dusseldorf. Most passengers didn’t seem mad about the situation and instead found it funny, Szabó said. Why an incorrect flight path was filed remains unclear. 'We are working with WDL Aviation, who operated this flight on behalf of British Airways, to establish why the incorrect flight plan was filed. We have apologized to customers for this interruption to their journey and will deal with them all individually. Customers are on route to Dusseldorf currently,” British Airways spokesman Chip Garner said in a statement. WDL Aviation said they’re also investigating the incident: “We are working closely with the authorities to investigate how the obviously unfortunate mix-up of flight schedules could occur,' said WDL spokesperson Joachim Schöttes. “At no time has the safety of passengers been compromised. We flew the passengers on the flight with number BA3271 to Dusseldorf after the involuntary stopover in Edinburgh.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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  • A metro Atlanta family said an airline crew told their two sons they’d have to get off a plane after a dispute over one of the boys’ severe peanut allergies, WSB-TV reported. >> Read more trending news  The boys were traveling from Atlanta to Manila, where their father is based on a temporary job, according to the news station. Rakesh Patel said his 15-year-old and 16-year-old sons were traveling by themselves after visiting their sick grandfather. The family told WSB-TV they let Delta Air Lines know ahead of time that the teen had a peanut allergy. Delta made sure that on the first leg of the flight, from Atlanta to Seoul, no peanuts were served, WSB reported.  However, things were different on the second leg of their flight. When the boys went to board their flight from Seoul to Manila on Delta’s skyteam partner Korean Air, the boys were told there would be peanuts served on board, the news station reported.  According to the family, the crew said they were not going to deprive other guests of peanuts and presented the teens with two options: deal with the peanuts or get off the flight.  When the son with allergies asked for another option, the boys were forcibly removed from the plane and stranded in Seoul, their father confirmed. They took a return flight to Atlanta, the family told WSB. Patel said he filed a complaint with the airline and asked for a refund.  In a statement, Delta apologized to the Patel family for the ordeal, “particularly during what is already a difficult time for them.”  “Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines,” the statement said. >> Trending: Giant alligator sneaks up on golfers, lumbers across links, plops down near 17th hole  A statement from Korean Air read, in part: “Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.”
  • A giant 9-foot alligator surprised golfers Sunday at a course in Savannah, Georgia, when it suddenly appeared out of nearby brush and lumbered across the links.  The reptile stopped the game at the Savannah Harbor Club on Hutchinson Island as stunned players gawked and gave the gator plenty of room. >> Read more trending news  One of the golfers captured the encounter on video, including the moment the creature decided to take a rest at the 17th hole. Savannah resident Ed Vance told IslandPacket.com he was getting ready to take a shot onto the 17th green when he heard a loud noise from nearby brush. “We all looked at each other and were asking, ‘What is that noise?’” Vance said. “At first, I thought it was the maintenance crew on the other side of the brush cutting it back or something.”  Then, a huge alligator ambled onto the course, heading for a pond just beyond the 17th hole. Vance said the reptile was so enormous, the sound of its feet hitting the course could be heard as it moved. “I will always remember the sound of his feet when he was walking on the green,” Vance said. “The video doesn’t pick it up, but the ‘thud, thud, thud’ sound was what you would think a dinosaur sounds like. It was surreal.” >> Related: Emotional support alligator visits senior home, is just like a dog, owner says After taking a quick pitstop on the links, the gator made its way to the pond and slithered in. The golf club isn’t too far from a wildlife refuge, so residents in the area are accustomed to seeing alligators and other wild animals, but Vance said he never expected such a giant gator to suddenly interrupt his golf game and he won’t soon forget it.