The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee indicated Saturday that he expects Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, will face an ethics probe over allegations he met in Vienna late last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor in pursuit of dirt on Joseph R. Biden, Mr. Trump’s potential opponent in the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who chairs the House panel, made the prediction after CNN reported about the alleged trip Friday evening.
“Do you believe that this should be a matter for an ethics investigation regarding Mr. Nunes?” MSNBC host Joy Reid asked Mr. Smith on the cable network.
“Quite likely, without question,” Mr. Smith replied.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and member of both the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, similarly said the allegation involving Mr. Nunes should be scrutinized.
“If Devin Nunes was using taxpayer money to do ‘political errands’ in Vienna for his puppeteer, Donald Trump, an ethics investigation should be initiated and he should be required to reimburse the taxpayers,” Ms. Speier said on Twitter later Saturday.
An attorney for Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman linked to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, said that his client is willing to testify before Congress that he was told about Mr. Nunes meeting last year in Vienna with former Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin, CNN reported late Friday.
The Daily Beast reported days earlier that a different lawyer for Mr. Parnas said that his client helped arrange meetings and calls for Mr. Nunes in Europe last year.
Mr. Nunes called the allegations “demonstrably false and scandalous” and said he planned to sue both CNN and The Daily Beast.
“I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement.
Mr. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, served as its chairman at the time of the alleged trip to Vienna. Congressional records show that he traveled to Europe late last November and returned several days later, but those records do not specify how he spent his time during that trip.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, assumed its leadership from Mr. Nunes in January. More recently, since September the committee has been among three participating in the ongoing impeachment inquiry threatening Mr. Trump’s presidency. At the heart of those proceedings is Mr. Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden while the U.S. withheld military assistance.
Mr. Giuliani has acknowledged working with Mr. Parnas and another Soviet-born businessman, Igor Fruman, on matters regarding Ukraine. They were both arrested last month on federal campaign finance charges and have pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Nunes was previously investigated but cleared by the House Committee on Ethics over his handling of the Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.