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Pelosi, Schiff call on Nunes to recuse himself from Russia probe


"This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the Chairman and I have worked together well for several years," Adam Schiff said. | Getty

The calls are a stunning breakdown for a committee that has traditionally operated in a bipartisan manner.

By Austin Wright

03/27/17 06:56 PM EDT

Updated 03/27/17 08:08 PM EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, both called for Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the panel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

"Speaker Ryan must insist that Chairman Nunes at least recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation immediately," Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "That leadership is long overdue."

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The calls for recusal are a stunning breakdown for a committee that has traditionally operated in a bipartisan manner. Schiff (D-Calif.) was joined Monday in calling for recusal by other Intelligence Committee Democrats, including Reps. Jim Himes of Connecticut, Eric Swalwell of California and Mike Quigley of Illinois — a sign that Nunes has lost the backing of his panel’s minority in running the investigation.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday that Nunes should lose his chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.

Schiff's move came after Nunes acknowledged Monday that he was on the White House grounds last week before he claimed to have seen evidence that Trump transition officials were inappropriately monitored by intelligence agencies. Meanwhile, Democrats said they still had not been provided access to the information upon which Nunes based his allegation.

"After much consideration, and in light of the chairman’s admission that he met with his source of information at the White House, I believe that the chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition, as he was also a key member of the transition team," Schiff said in a statement. "This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the chairman and I have worked together well for several years."

In his own statement, Swalwell said Nunes “should no longer be anywhere near this investigation.”

Despite these calls from Democrats, Nunes almost certainly will not lose his gavel or his control of the committee's Russia probe.

The California Republican said Monday he kept House Speaker Paul Ryan fully informed about what he was up to, including his decision to brief the White House on his new evidence last Wednesday despite the fact that he is supposed to be leading an investigation into ties between aides to Donald Trump and Moscow.

A spokeswoman for Ryan, AshLee Strong, said Monday that the Wisconsin Republican “has full confidence that Chairman Nunes is conducting a thorough, fair and credible investigation.”

Earlier in the day, a spokesman for Nunes confirmed the intelligence chairman was on the “White House grounds” last week on the day before


Democrats burned by polling blind spot

As they investigate the forces behind the party’s stunning losses in November, Democrats are coming to a troubling conclusion. The party didn’t just lose among rural white voters on Election Day, it may have failed to capture them in its pre-election polling as well.

Many pollsters and strategists believe that rural white voters, particularly those without college degrees, eluded the party’s polling altogether — and their absence from poll results may have been both a cause and a symptom of Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton in several states.

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Determining what exactly happened is one of the most pressing problems facing the out-of-power party. In order to win those voters back — or figure out a future path to victory without them — party strategists say they first need to measure the size of that rural and working class cohort.

John Hagner, a partner at Clarity Campaign Labs, a D.C.-based Democratic analytics firm, said 2016 taught the party a hard lesson about polling in the Trump Era.

“The folks who would talk to a stranger about politics just aren’t representative of people who wouldn’t,” he said.

The first evidence of the party’s polling blind spot surfaced in a governor’s race: the 2015 contest in Kentucky. Both public and private polls going into the election showed Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin running neck-and-neck — Conway had a 3-point lead in the final RealClearPolitics average — but Bevin won by a comfortable, 9-point margin.

Like some of the more Democratic states where Trump upset Clinton last year, Kentucky has a large rural and a large working-class-white population (often there is considerable overlap in the groups). Whites make up 88 percent of Kentucky’s population, and fewer than a quarter of Kentucky residents over age 25 have a college degree.

Demographic trends confirm that these voters have been moving toward Republicans, but they don’t provide an easy answer for why pollsters have struggled to capture them in surveys.

Hagner sees some similarities between Bevin and Trump — both businessmen who initially positioned themselves as insurgent candidates within the GOP. In both cases, there were signs of what’s known as ‘social-desirability bias:’ the idea that voters won’t admit for whom they intend to vote because they think others will look unfavorably on their choice.

“With both Bevin and Trump, every newspaper endorsed against them,” Hagner said. “The right answer, in air quotes, was, ‘I’m not going to vote for them.’ … There’s a small group of people who knew that, at some level, they didn’t want their support for Trump to be scrutinized.”

Pollsters are still analyzing whether a “shy Trump voter” effect may have been decisive in some states. Like the public polls, Democrats struggled to measure the presidential race in private polls in a number of Upper Midwest states with large numbers of working-class white voters.

Clinton’s campaign mostly ignored Michigan and Wisconsin — where public and private surveys showed Clinton consistently ahead — until the final


White House coy about source of Nunes’ wiretapping evidence


The Nunes disclosure has become something of a sideshow, casting doubt on the House committee’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation and putting an unflattering light on the California Republican. | AP Photo

New and confusing details are slowly emerging about the source of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ declaration last week that Trump transition aides had been inadvertently picked up by intelligence surveillance — and the White House doesn't appear eager to clear up its role.

Ever since Nunes’ conveniently timed revelation last week — an announcement that President Donald Trump says “somewhat” vindicated his unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him — questions have swirled about whether the White House played a part in getting the evidence in Nunes’ hands.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer for days has cast doubt on that idea, while not directly denying it. And a new statement from Nunes on Monday that revealed he obtained the evidence last Tuesday on White House grounds” is putting Trump’s team in an even more awkward position.

“Anything’s possible,” Spicer finally declared at Monday’s press briefing when repeatedly pushed on whether the White House or someone in the administration may have been Nunes’ source.

“What I can tell you, through his public comments, is that he has said that he had multiple sources that he came to a conclusion on, so the degree to which any of those sources weighed on the ultimate outcome of what he came to a decision on I don’t know,” Spicer added.

As the controversy deepens around whether any of Trump’s associates colluded with the alleged Russian effort to interfere in the election, the Nunes disclosure has become something of a sideshow, casting doubt on the House committee’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation and putting an unflattering light on the California Republican.

Nunes, along with other Republicans on the committee, have often appeared eager to chase other stories — like the source of leaks about former national security adviser Michael Flynn, or whether Trump transition officials were improperly unmasked in intelligence reports — than to dig into what is purportedly the subject of their investigation: Russian interference in the election, which the intelligence community concluded was designed to boost Trump.

The latest Nunes episode kicked off in a series of bizarre turns last week.

Nunes told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, apparently after briefing Speaker Paul Ryan, that he had become aware of intelligence reports that had picked up Trump transition officials in “incidental” and legal collection — presumably in conversations with foreigners who were the target of federal surveillance. Nunes insisted the intelligence reports had nothing to do with Russia, and added that while they were legal he still found them troubling. He suggested that some Trump associates were improperly unmasked in the reports (standard practice is to redact the names of U.S. citizens that are caught up in incidental collection).

The revelation conveniently came after Trump discussed his wiretapping accusation with


Three things Trump could do to implode Obamacare


At sanctuary cities gathering, policymakers vow to become Trump's 'worst nightmare'

Melissa Mark-Viverito is pictured. | William Alatriste

Mark-Viverito insisted to reporters that leaders of sanctuary cities had a chance to show strength to Washington by coming together. | William Alatriste

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and dozens of legislators from around the country are dismissing the Trump administration's threat to cut millions of dollars in federal funding from sanctuary cities as an illegal maneuver to bully cities into enforcing immigration law, even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions aired that threat Monday from the White House.

“This is nothing new in terms of the threats that the federal administration has been making, but it really is sad that the security of our city, the security of our country, would be put at stake to just meet a campaign promise to a dwindling base,” Mark-Viverito told reporters gathered at Borough of Manhattan Community College for a conference on sanctuary city policy hosted by ThinkProgress.

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“It is illegal for the federal government to withdraw funds in a punitive fashion from cities that they say are refusing to comply with ill guided policies and laws that they are enacting,” she added.

At Monday’s policy gathering, city officials from around the country weighed their options over how to appropriately defy Trump’s immigration orders. Some of the lawmakers, including representatives from blue cities in red states, described fears of putting targets on their backs by not complying with federal law.

But Mark-Viverito insisted to reporters that leaders of sanctuary cities had a chance to show strength to Washington by coming together.

"Not only is there power in our numbers and in union in our cities, but as municipalities we have the power to secure a number of tools to expand the protection we offer to our immigrant communities, and that is why we are here today,” she said. “We are hoping that we are going to become this administration’s worst nightmare.”

But as the conference was underway, Sessions took to the podium in the White House briefing room to warn that the Department of Justice is ready to hold back nearly $4 billion in funds from going to any sanctuary municipality.

Sanctuary municipalities are cities that do not willfully cooperate with or help to enforce federal immigration laws. In New York City, for example, the New York Police Department for years has declined to use its resources in assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from enforcing immigration law, picking up undocumented people or holding them for ICE to arrest. The city Department of Correction only honors detainer requests for undocumented immigrants who have been charged with a violent crime or are considered a threat to national security.

Sessions on Monday urged cities to reconsider these types of policies, saying they have damaged national security and public safety.

“Unfortunately some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate the enforcement of immigration laws,” Session said. “Including refusing to detain non-felons on federal detainer requests.”

Sessions cited the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, a law passed in

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