Nunes Taints Intel Committee Investigation
Nunes Taints Intel
Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California is the Chairman of the House intelligence committee — but he’s also being called a partisan puppet for the Trump administration.
Nunes and his committee of Republican and Democratic representatives have been looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as Donald Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama “tapped my wires.” As chairman of the committee, Nunes is expected to conduct a fair and bipartisan investigation on behalf of the US government. So far, he has not.
The moment he received information that communications involving Trump transition team members may have been incidentally intercepted, Nunes didn’t immediately convene his committee to share the news. Instead, he ran directly to The White House and blabbed to Donald Trump. He then raced to the media to conduct a live (attention seeking) press conference.
Now, Democrats are calling for Nunes to step down, saying he has tainted and “betrayed” the capacity of the panel to conduct a balanced investigation and has personally lost all credibility to carry out his job.
“At this point, the committee’s independence is on life support,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, said following a tense closed-door meeting of the committee last Thursday. “Not since September 11th has this committee been charged with such an important responsibility. And that requires independence and collaboration [with Democrats]. He has betrayed both of those.”
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland added that Nunes “compromised his position” so severely, he should step aside and allow an independent and impartial team to complete the investigation.
Democrats are pressing Nunes to divulge the source of his supposed new information. They also want to know why he bypassed the committee to brief Donald Trump, who immediately seized the moment as a victory and vindication of his claims that Mr. Obama spied on him.
Needless to say, Nunes has created a huge perception problem. On Monday, it was revealed that he had a secret meeting with an unnamed White House source only a day before his abrupt press conference to leak information. Nunes also canceled a public hearing on the Russia situation, which was slated for today and was to include the NSA and CIA. It appears his intentions are to help Trump save face, particularly since last week’s revealing public hearing from FBI Director James Comey came very close to admitting discovery of collusion between Trump and Russia.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has gone public in calling for Nunes to completely recuse himself from the investigation.
Nunes has since issued what was described by sources as a partial apology for mishandling the situation. He also acknowledged that he should have first informed Democrats on the panel. However, he did not back away from claims that Trump and members of his transition team were surveilled.
“The president didn’t invite me over. I called down there and invited myself because I thought he needed to understand what I saw and that he needed to try to get information because he has every right to see it,” Nunes said. “It’s a judgment call on my part. At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you don’t.”
His words did not settle with his fellow committee members.
“He just apologized; he didn’t specify what his apology was about,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said after the meeting.
Understandably, his actions have raised very valid questions about whether Nunes, who, ironically, was himself a member of Trump’s transition team, has sufficient credibility to continue to conduct a fair investigation.
“I think he sent a signal that as a member of the Trump transition team himself, he probably should not be intricately involved in this investigation,” House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi said.
How can a congressional chairman effectively investigate Donald Trump, when he’s simultaneously providing Donald Trump with an advanced alert of his findings — even before briefing his own committee members?
Has this Trump stooge irreversibly undermined the congressional investigation?