Capitol Hill was abuzz Wednesday with a surprise visit by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray. The duo requested – and received – a private in-person meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to discuss the ongoing investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, but little else about the meeting was disclosed to the press.
Rachel Maddow tweeted later in the day that the meeting had something to do with Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has led the charge in congress to undermine the multiple investigations into the Trump campaign, including the investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
A single source familiar with the meeting tells us:
Surprise meeting tonight between Deputy Atty General Rod Rosenstein and House Speaker Paul Ryan was requested by Rosenstein to discuss matters related to Congressman Devin Nunes and the Russia investigation.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) January 3, 2018
“For months, Nunes has lashed out at DOJ over what he argues is a deliberate failure to respond to requests for information on the so-called ‘Steele dossier,'” Scott Wong at The Hill reported Wednesday. “In a letter to Rosenstein last week, Nunes blasted the department’s initial response as ‘disingenuous at best,’ claiming that ‘at this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves,'” Wong added.
Late Wednesday evening, Rep. Nunes broke his silence on the day’s development, and told Fox News’ Chad Pergram:
“After speaking to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein this evening, I believe the House Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested.”
This is the first characterization of the surprise meeting involving anyone close to it that has been made public, but there’s no way to tell if Rep. Nunes’ account is the complete story about what was discussed. On its surface, it could easily be interpreted as an attempt to get out in front of the narrative of a potentially damning development.
This would not be the first time Rep. Nunes attempted to hijack the Russia investigation and steer it in a direction more favorable to the president. Last spring, just as congressional investigations were getting on track, Nunes met secretly with a still undisclosed source at the White House to engineer a leak of “evidence” that purported to corroborate Trump’s infamous claim that President Obama “wire tapped Trump Tower” during the campaign.
Nunes’ move eventually evolved into the unmasking allegations against Obama administration officials that Republican allies of the president have tried to use to distract Americans from the substance of the investigations ever since. But it was quickly diagnosed by most observers as a transparently desperate maneuver to change the subject.
Time will tell what Rep. Devin Nunes is really up to this time.