Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the House Intelligence Committee Chairman and former member of the Trump transition team, is in hot water with his colleagues again.
You may remember that Nunes was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives and tried at every opportunity to derail the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the matter until he was forced to step aside from his role in leading the probe because of a House Ethics Committee investigation into his own behavior when he was accused of making “unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”
Of course, allowing a member of the Trump transition team to head the panel investigating the actions of the Trump campaign seemed like a pretty obvious conflict of interest from the start, but it hasn’t seemed to stop Nunes’ efforts to make charges about the supposed illegal disclosure by the Obama administration of Trump transition team member names in the classified documents that actually proved that Nunes claims that there was no evidence linking the Trump campaign to Russia were categorically false and politically motivated.
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Despite the fact that sources from both the Republican and Democratic parties said back in April that the original documents Nunes cited do not support his claims that the Obama administration acted illegally or unusually, Nunes has continued to press the issue over the objections of his colleagues in his attempts to protect the President, and ultimately, bolster his own conservative credentials.
In July, according to Politico, an aide to Nunes secretly sent a pair of Republican staffers to London to contact the author of the infamous dossier that places Trump under a stream of Golden Showers in a Russian Hotel, Christopher Steele, in an attempt to debunk the source of many of the original links publicized between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin.
Now, according to The Washington Post, it has been revealed that Nunes may be headed back into the bad graces of even his fellow Republicans, even after being cleared in his own ethics inquiry earlier this month. The Post reports that Nunes “is reasserting the full authority of his position as chairman just as the GOP appears poised to challenge special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.”
“Though Nunes has not officially wrested his panel’s Russia probe back from the Republicans he deputized to run it, the chairman’s reemergence as a combative Trump loyalist has raised alarm among Democrats that the future of the investigation may be clipped short or otherwise undermined. Even some of Nunes’s GOP allies have expressed concern about his tactics, prompting rare public warnings that he should temper his attacks on federal law enforcement.”
Even Representative Trey Goudy (R-SC), who made his name endlessly investigating the Hillary Clinton email “scandal”, has said that his “heart would be broken” if Nunes actually carries out his plans to publish “a corruption exposé about the FBI,” fearing the damage such blatant political posturing will have on the nation’s law enforcement agencies.
Gowdy further charged that Nunes was a loose cannon in the GOP, taking multiple actions in his pursuit of ending the Russia investigation “without the express blessing of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has been involved in crafting the GOP’s multipronged approach to examining a string of allegations from Russian election interference to alleged mismanagement at the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.”
Another issue that Gowdy raised was Nunes continued involvement in the Committee’s Russia investigation by the proxy of his staff while he was supposedly recused from the process while his ethics charges were being looked at. According to The Washington Post:
“I don’t know where his staff ends and HPSCI” begins, Gowdy said, referring to the House Intelligence committee by its official acronym. “Some of them are apolitical nonpartisan members of his staff, and I’m not smart enough to know who’s what.”
That Nunes will continue to try to derail the Committee’s investigation is undeniable at this point. He has already announced, “We have no evidence of Russia collusion.” Given that Nunes is not exactly a non-partisan investigator, the irony of his claiming bias in the FBI investigation is heavy.
Most of us will wait for the real impartial investigation being conducted by the man whose reputation Nunes has tried to undermine, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to be completed before we dismiss the damning evidence already publically disclosed as politically tainted falsehoods. In the meantime, Democrats on the committee will have to be nimble to parry Nunes’ attempts to end the investigation prematurely or point it in a direction that ignores the real issues at stake.