Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that "after much consideration," he believes Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee's chairman, should recuse himself from further involvement in the Russia investigation.
Schiff said he came to this conclusion after Nunes admitted he went to the White House grounds to meet with a source who showed him evidence about the incidental collection of communications from members of President Trump's transition team. Nunes, who was also a member of the transition team, filled Trump in on what he learned the next day. Schiff, who has worked with Nunes for several years, said this recommendation is not one he makes lightly. "But in the same way that the attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to inform the Senate of his meetings with Russian officials, I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president's campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman," he said in a statement.
None of the committee's members on either side of the aisle have seen the documents Nunes claimed to have seen, Schiff said. "Whether the documents support the argument that names were improperly unmasked or distributed, it is impossible to judge, but one thing is very clear: There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee," he added. "That it was also obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning. In the interests of a fair and impartial investigation whose results will be respected by the public, the chairman's recusal is more than warranted." Catherine Garcia
Around 70 people, including children and teachers from multiple schools, are believed to have been climbing in an area of the Nasu Osen Family Ski Resort hit by an avalanche Monday morning. Rescue efforts are underway, the Kyodo news agency said, with six people showing no vital signs and three missing. The resort is in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Catherine Garcia
South Korean prosecutors will ask a court to issue an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye, the Yonhap news agency reported Monday.
Park was impeached three months ago and removed from office by the Constitutional Court earlier this month on allegations of corruption; Park was interrogated by prosecutors last week on suspicion she let a friend covertly interfere with state affairs and worked with an imprisoned confidante to extort certain companies. Park has denied the allegations. Catherine Garcia
Due to an unspecified terrorism threat, passengers on some flights bound for the United States will not be allowed to carry electronic devices larger than a cellphone inside the airplane's cabin, U.S. officials told Reuters Monday.
The rule has been under consideration since the government became aware of the threat several weeks ago, the official said, and could be announced by the Department of Homeland Security Monday night. The ban covers a dozen foreign airlines flying from a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. While passengers won't be able to carry the larger devices into the cabin, they will be able to have such items in their checked bags. Catherine Garcia
The "first elements" of a controversial anti-missile system sent to South Korea by the United States arrived on Monday, U.S. officials told NBC News.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is "strictly defensive," the officials said, meant to protect South Korea against missiles fired by North Korea. North Korea launched four medium-range missiles on Monday, with three traveling 620 miles and landing in the water near Japan, and South Korea's acting president and prime minister said the consequences of Pyongyang having nuclear weapons would be "horrible and beyond imagination." Last year, Beijing spoke out against THAAD being deployed to South Korea, calling it a "clear, present, and substantive threat to China's security interests." There are already THAAD systems active in Guam and Hawaii to defend against North Korea. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, House Republicans unveiled the American Health Care Act, their long-awaited bill to repeal and replace the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act.
The proposal calls for freezing enrollment in the ACA's expanded Medicaid program on Jan. 1, 2020, and moving forward, capping federal funding for Medicaid. Until the end of 2019, states would be able to sign individuals up for expanded Medicaid. The proposal includes refundable tax credits, based on age and capped at a specific income threshold, for people who want to purchase health insurance, and repeals most taxes that were used to fund ObamaCare and the penalty for individual and employer mandates to buy insurance.
House committees want to start voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday. The plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under the ACA, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia
After President Trump used Twitter to accuse former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, FBI Director James Comey told the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump's claims, senior U.S. officials told The New York Times on Sunday.
Comey made the request on Saturday, saying the allegation is baseless and must be shot down because it insinuates that the FBI broke the law, but the Justice Department has yet to release any statement refuting Trump's claim. As the most senior law enforcement official who also worked under Obama, the Times says, it is unclear why Comey did not release a statement on his own.
On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump is requesting that Congress look into "whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016." Obama's spokesman has called Trump's accusation "simply false." Catherine Garcia
During Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a Republican senator from Alabama, spoke twice with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials told The Washington Post.
The Justice Department told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Sessions had a conversation with Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and also met with him and other ambassadors after a speech at the Heritage Foundation. When asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during his confirmation hearing Jan. 10 what he would do if he discovered evidence anyone tied to Trump's campaign communicated with the Russian government before the 2016 presidential election, Sessions said, "I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
Here’s the money shot of Sessions lying to Franken (if you believe the WaPo report). pic.twitter.com/0vK12oMed1
— Jamie O'Grady (@JamieOGrady) March 2, 2017
A spokeswoman for Sessions, who served as one of Trump's top foreign policy advisers during the campaign, told the Post there was "absolutely nothing misleading about his answer," because he was "asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee." The Post contacted the 26 members of the 2016 Armed Services Committee and asked if they met with Kislyak last year; 19 responded, with all of them, including chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), saying no. One staffer said "members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak's door," given the strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.
As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, and both are investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible links between Russia and Trump associates. Franken told the Post that if it's "true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading. It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russian connection, and he must recuse himself immediately." Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia