From the White House on down, Washington these days is full of people in jobs that are well above their competence level. U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has now carved his own name onto that list. The man who is supposed to lead a bipartisan, unbiased congressional investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has instead decided to use that position to protect President Trump at all costs.
And the thing is, he’s botching that second job too.
Indeed, Nunes’ strange behavior, his constantly shifting stories and his panicked management style make Trump look more guilty even if he really isn’t. His actions and statements have made it more necessary than ever to name an independent counsel to investigate the links between the Trump campaign, the Trump business empire and Russian intelligence operatives, and to give the American people an honest, definitive account.
If nothing happened, that’s fine. Either way, we need to know.
In his most recent misadventure, Nunes claimed to have discovered information proving that the Trump transition team at Trump Tower had been wiretapped by U.S. intelligence, thus in part validating Trump’s claim that he had been targeted for wiretapping by President Obama. But even as Nunes made that suggestion, he was forced to admit that it’s nonsense:
- As Nunes admits, all the wiretapping revealed by his “secret source” was perfectly legal, under approved court order. There was no “rogue” operation as implied by Trump.
- By Nunes’ own account, all of the taped conversations occurred during the transition, not during the campaign as Trump claimed.
- Again by Nunes’ own account, the Trump team was not the target of those wiretaps, as the president claimed; instead, some conversations between Trump transition officials and officials from foreign governments may have been incidentally picked up by wiretapping that targets those foreign officials. It’s no surprise that such calls would show up on legal wiretaps — the surprise would be if they didn’t.
Nunes’ credibility was further compromised by his handling of this “secret information.” Instead of informing his committee colleagues, as committee rules and practice require, he announced it to the press and then to President Trump himself, in person. When asked why, he told Fox News that “I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell (Trump), because, as you know, he’s taking a lot of heat in the news media.”
Protecting the president from the media is Sean Spicer’s job. It is not the job of the House Intelligence chairman.
And how did Nunes acquire this “information” that no one else has yet seen? That’s where our story leaps from the ridiculous to the absurd. The chairman now concedes that he got the information after he was secretly summoned, at night, to a meeting on the grounds of the Trump White House.
Let that sink in:
The man investigating Trump ties with Russia secretly travels to the Trump White House, where he is shown secret information benefitting Trump. The next day, he not only makes that information public, he takes it back to the Trump White House to inform the president of the information that he got from the Trump White House in the first place.
It’s a clown act, and instead of dispelling suspicions about Trump’s campaign, it accentuates them. If Nunes thought that a fair and impartial investigation would clear Trump, why not conduct that fair and impartial investigation? Why act as if the truth were dangerous?