Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

But that same day, the hearing, which also would have included former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper, was cancelled by the House Intelligence Committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, and any White House decision on Yates's testimony became moot.

In a matter of days, Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, drew headlines for a leaving Washington for a ski vacation while a signature campaign promise fell apart.

As House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes faces growing calls to step aside from the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie admitted he didn't agree with Nunes' actions but said recusal is a "personal decision".

The swirling controversy over possible links between US President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign team and Russian Federation has taken a new twist after it was claimed the White House sought to stop a former senior official from testifying before congress.

Kushner, by virtue of his marriage to Trump's daughter, may be untouchable, but his current situation points to a White House with its power matrix constantly in flux.

In a tweet, the California Democrat questioned what the "holdup" was after the White House denied reports Tuesday that it tried to stop Yates from testifying. The Trump Administration is seeking to block former deputy attorney general Sally Yates from testifying in the ongoing investigation.

At the meeting, O'Neil presented a letter in which he said the Justice Department had "advised" him that Yates' official communications on issues of interest to the House panel are "client confidences" that can not be disclosed without written consent. The president owns those privileges. Therefore, to the extent Ms. Yates needs consent to disclose the details of those communications to [the intelligence panel], she needs to consult with the White House. Nunes, who was on Trump's transition team, has declined to elaborate and he shared his information with the White House, but not his Democratic colleagues on the intelligence committee. O'Neil immediately challenged this but shortly after, he received another letter from the Justice Department referring him to the White House.

The same day O'Neil sent that letter, Nunes, the Intelligence Committee's chairman, said he would not go forward with the public hearing that was to feature Yates' testimony, among others. The cancellation of the hearing made O'Neil's deadline moot.

The White House has denied it tried to stop potentially damaging evidence about links between the President's team and Russian Federation from being made public.

"Are you going to stay as chairman of this investigation?" a reporter asked him. "I'm sorry, whenever there's time we'll do a press conference".

  • Jon Douglas