Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Amid criticism of House probe, Pa. Republican calls for Senate to take lead on Russia inquiry

WASHINGTON -- Already at odds with President Trump, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent has waded into the fraught investigations into Russia's meddling in November's election, saying his House colleagues are "paralyzed" and calling on the Senate to take the lead in the inquiry.

Dent's comments to the Washington Post on Wednesday make him one of the only Republicans to call for the House to step back from its investigation. They come as the leader of the House's review, Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), comes under increasing criticism for his handling of the probe.

"The Senate is moving forward. I think that's the only committee that's going to be able to bring us a report at this point," Dent, of Allentown, told the newspaper.  "They have a much greater likelihood of providing a report than the House does at this point."

Top Democrats have called for Nunes to step aside after he briefed the media and President Trump last week on new information while not sharing it with fellow members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Dent, who refused to endorse Trump last year, has emerged as a visible critic of his own party's plans and conduct in the early months of the new  administration. Trump, according to the New York Times, recently told Dent the congressman "is destroying the Republican Party" as the centrist leader stood against the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare. Dent later appeared on Meet the Press to defend moderates' views and held a media availability with one-time Trump rival John Kasich, the moderate Ohio governor, to discuss their own vision for health-care reform.

Both the House and Senate, as well as criminal investigators, have been looking into Russia's attempts to influence November's election. While the Senate probe has had a measure of bipartisanship, the House inquiry has been marked by infighting.

Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, recently publicly said the intelligence he saw shows Trump transition team members were swept up in surveillance on foreign agents and then identified in reports on that surveillance. He later said the information he reviewed came from a source he met on White House grounds, raising further questions about his handling of an inquiry that may implicate Trump associates.

Nunes' decision angered Democrats, who say it cast doubt over whether he can run an independent inquiry. They have accused him of aiding Trump, who has been dogged by questions about whether his campaign coordinated with Russia, and of trying to help the president justify a thoroughly refuted claim that  President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower.

Nunes was also part of the Trump transition team, raising further questions about his independence.

You can follow Tamari on Twitter or email him at