During a testimony on a bill Wednesday, Republican Representative and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes was to be questioned by the committee’s Democrats about his investigation of Russian meddling and the 2016 presidential race, but he left before they got to ask him what they planned to.
The Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee, Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, was the one who allowed Nunes to leave, immediately prompting criticism from Democrats.
According to Caroline Boothe, a spokeswoman for the Rules Committee, that was the plan all along. She said that Nunes was only to give the opening statement on the related legislation and then leave in order to see to other business. Representative Frank LoBiondo was to take his place and answer questions from members of the Intelligence Authorization Act regarding the bill.
Boothe added that Democrats on the committee were aware of the plan and knew Nunes wouldn’t be taking any queries. A spokesperson for the committee, however, denied this was so, maintaining that Democrats were not aware Nunes would leave the hearing that early.
However, CNN adds that Sessions went ahead and opened it up for questions while Nunes was still in the witness seat, and Democrats used the opportunity to start to ask about Russia.
Among the questions they asked were ones relating to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a statement he previously made to the House Intelligence Committee. After a short recess, Nunes was permitted to leave, angering Democrats who didn’t manage to ask him more questions.
“In all my years on the Rules Committee, I don’t ever recall an instance where any member was prevented from asking questions of a witness,” Representative Jim McGovern said. “What is Chairman Nunes trying to hide?”