Congressman Devin Nunes can parse it anyway he wants, but his decision to temporarily step down from chairing the House Intelligence Committee was the only proper course for him, given an ethics investigation into his own behavior.

The California Republican who served on President Trump's transition team has been unable to explain why he met a secret source on the White House grounds to view documents concerning transition team members whose identities may have been improperly revealed in U.S. intelligence agency reports of foreign targets.

There is speculation that someone in the administration gave Nunes the information to deflect attention from FBI Director James Comey's earlier testimony that the federal agency has been conducting a criminal investigation into whether Russia worked with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election.

Nunes has offered no good explanation for purporting to conduct an unbiased congressional investigation of allegations concerning the Trump election campaign while he apparently was meeting secretly with a Trump staff member.

It's curious that Nunes went to the press and to Trump to reveal what he had seen in the intelligence documents that someone showed him before he alerted fellow members of the Intelligence Committee that he had traipsed over to the White House.

Nunes said his recusal was prompted by an ethics complaint filed by what he described as "leftwing activist groups" whose charges were "entirely false and politically motivated." But he can only blame himself for his predicament.

The Ethics Committee said it has an obligation to investigate whether Nunes violated House rules, or the law, by possibly making unauthorized disclosures of classified information. That gave Nunes little choice except to step aside. Perhaps now the Intelligence Committee can do its job in a manner that won't be suspected of being tainted by bias.