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Powerful GOP chairman Rogers of Michigan to retire from Congress

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
FILE - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this June 6, 2013 file photo. Rogers said he won't seek re-election during an interview on Detroit radio station WJR-AM Friday March 28, 2014. He says he'll serve out the end of his term and plans to start a national radio program. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Rogers holds one of the most coveted spots in Washington as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He has access to the nation's most closely held secrets and wields power in deciding the fate of spy programs.

Yet Rogers, R-Mich., says he can have a bigger impact as a radio talk show host.

So on Friday he made a surprise announcement: Rogers, 50, will leave Congress after this year to take a job with Cumulus Media, a radio giant with 460 stations in 89 markets and a big-name roster of hosts that includes Don Imus, Mark Levin, Carson Daly and Michael Savage.

“My theory is if I can move the needle on the 2016 elections and the conversation and the dialogue about America's future, then I'm equally as excited about that than I am about the work I'm doing right now,” he said.

Rogers said the show will give him “a very large national platform” and an opportunity “to talk to people in their cars and living rooms and homes every single day.”

As the House intelligence chairman, his profile has risen as he has staunchly defended the National Security Agency and condemned a series of leaks by Edward Snowden.

A former FBI agent who jumped into Michigan politics in the 1990s and ran for Congress in 2000, Rogers has jousted in recent months with some of the more libertarian members of his party who have been critical of the NSA.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Rogers' decision “a loss” for the nation's intelligence community, noting that as an FBI agent and former Army officer, he had “served our nation with distinction.”

Who will get Rogers' coveted chairmanship? Aides said committee members Peter King, R-N.Y.; Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; and Jeff Miller, R-Fla., were leading contenders. Nunes, a prolific fundraiser and close ally of GOP leaders, is considered the early favorite, said these aides, who requested anonymity.

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