A Democrat congressman has joined calls for the chair of the House Intelligence Committee to recuse himself from the Russia investigation over allegations that he is too close to the White House.
On Monday it was revealed that Republican congressman Devin Nunes was seen on the White House grounds the day before he announced that members of Mr Trump’s transition team may have “incidentally” been caught up in surveillance operations.
California representative Eric Swalwell, a member of the committee, has called on Mr Nunes to step down from chairing the investigation into whether Russian hackers had interfered with the presidential elections last year.
He said the meeting made it look like he is too close to the Trump administration to be objective.
The announcement was seen Mr Trump as a partial vindication for his accusation that Barack Obama had “wiretapped” his home in Manhattan during the campaign – a claim which Mr Nunes previously said there is no evidence to support and one which was widely ridiculed by the press and the political establishment.
After making the announcement last week Mr Nunes then raised more eyebrows by going back to the White House to brief Mr Trump – which Mr Swalwell said made it like look like a “cover-up”.
Mr Nunes said his first visit to the White House was not to see Mr Trump but attend meetings “to confirm what I already knew” and claimed no one from the Trump team knew he was there.
But Mr Swalwell has ridiculed this explanation in an interview with MSNBC: “It’s not an internet cafe. You can’t just walk in and receive classified information.
“Everyone in the building knows that you’re there in the building.
“This is done because the White House wanted it to be done. And this is what a cover-up to a crime looks like. We are watching it play out right now.”
He said that Mr Nunes visit was unnecessary because he could have reviewed the same classified materials at the Capitol building.
Mr Swalwell revealed Mr Nunes had not told the intelligence committee the source of the surveillance claims.
“If this was done the proper way, they could have brought it over, shared it with both parties of the committee,” he added.
Other Democrat members of the committee, including Mr Swalwell’s fellow California representative Adam Schiff, have also called for Mr Nunes to recuse himself in light of the revelations.
Republican senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain has also called on Mr Nunes to reveal his sources.
Mr Nunes has insisted the revelations about the surveillance had nothing to do with the Russia investigation and he believes they were legal – but he was still “alarmed” by the discovery.
The row comes as the House continues to investigate claims that the Kremlin had sought to interfere with the US election to help Mr Trump’s campaign.
The CIA and the FBI have both stated they believe Russian hackers tried to manipulate the US election by hacking the emails of key member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and releasing them ahead of their conference to discredit them.
FBI Director James Comey appeared before the intelligence committee to confirm that the service was investigating whether there was “any coordination between the [Trump campaign] and the Russian effort”.
Mr Trump has repeatedly denied that he has any connection to the Kremlin.
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