White House invites lawmakers to see intelligence material

The top Republican in Congress on Tuesday stood by Devin Nunes, the head of the House of Representatives intelligence committee who is under fire over his handling of an investigation into possible Russian ties to President Donald Trump's election campaign.

"This one is one of the biggest investigations the Hill has seen in my time here", Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at a news conference with committee vice-chairman Mark Warner.

Nunes told Bloomberg on Monday that he went to the White House because he didn't "have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress".

On Tuesday, Nunes declined to say if the White House had asked him to cancel the hearing.

The Washington Post reported that Trump's administration wanted to block Yates' testimony - a claim denied Tuesday by White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

"The President from the early days of his campaign talked about repealing and replacing", Spicer said during his daily press briefing.

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"Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russian Federation", he tweeted Monday in a reference to the Clintons.

Top Democrats and congressional Republicans have called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) to step aside over his visit last week to the White House to view unspecified intelligence documents and his decision to cancel a hearing.

And on Friday, Nunes cancelled all of this week's scheduled committee meetings, including a public hearing for the testimony of former Obama administration intelligence director James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

"I'd like to know first what the goal of that would be", Nunes told a reporter who asked if he planned to recuse himself from probes involving Russian Federation or Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is continuing to back Nunes.

Since then Nunes has revealed nothing about the information he received, drawing sharp criticism and calls to step down.

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"At the end of the day, we're going to do an investigation with or without them", he said.

Yates served as acting attorney general in the early days of the Trump administration until she was sacked for refusing to implement President Donald Trump's order barring travelers form seven Muslim-majority countries.

After Trump made unfounded claims that President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped, Nunes said that intelligence agencies had incidentally collected information about the Trump team's communications as part of their surveillance of foreign agents. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said it would be "very difficult" to conduct a credible investigation otherwise.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe into the Russian meddling in last year's USA election, will meet in a closed session and its two leaders, Sen.

"They need to give us their witness list because we have no idea who they even want to interview", Nunes insisted.

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