House Intelligence Committee chairman David Nunes said that he is temporarily stepping aside from the committee's investigation into allegations Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Nunes will remain committee chairman and be involved in other issues that come before the panel. Republican Mike Conaway will take the lead in the Russia investigation.

Nunes said in a statement Thursday that "several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics."

He said that the accusations were baseless but it was in the best interests of the committee that Conaway takes the leadership of the Russia investigation while the ethics panel looks into the issue.

Adam Schiff, the Ranking Democrat Member of the Committee, said in a statement it was "not an easy decision" for the chairman and he looked forward to working with Conaway "and putting our investigation fully back on track."

"The important work of investigating the Russian involvement in our election never subsided, but we have a fresh opportunity to move forward in the unified and nonpartisan way that an investigation of this seriousness demands."

There have been calls from Democrats and some Republicans for Nunes to step aside from the investigation after it was revealed that he had held secret talks with a White House source before briefing the press with information the committee had not seen.

Nunes alleged that Trump and associates may have been "incidentally" wiretapped by US intelligence agencies.

Nunes initially resisted calls for him to recuse himself from the Russia investigation and cancelled scheduled public hearings of the committee last week.

House speaker Paul Ryan, who had initially backed Nunes when he refused to recuse himself, said Nunes had made the right decision in stepping side. "It is clear that this process would be a distraction for the House intelligence committee's investigation into Russian interference in our election. Chairman Nunes has offered to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and I fully support this decision," said Ryan in a statement.