After putting on the initial facade that he would run a bipartisan investigation of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, GOP chair of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes sold out on Wednesday by unexpectedly making politically motivated comments to the press about information collected on the Trump transition team.
“I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition,” Nunes said, almost excitedly, today from the White House.
It was a clear attempt by Nunes to give Trump some political cover to keep defending his bogus claim that President Barack Obama illegally wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign – even though his statement does nothing to validate the president.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the same committee, was caught off guard by the information because Nunes did not disclose any of it to him or any other members of the committee.
“If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been,” Schiff said, calling Nunes a “surrogate of the White House” after making the comments.
Nancy Pelosi echoed these calls in her own statement released not long ago, saying Nunes “cannot possibly lead an honest investigation.”
The unprecedented comments of Chairman Nunes are an act of diversion and desperation. The Chairman’s highly irregular conduct with the White House raises serious questions about his impartiality, especially given his history as part of the Trump Transition team. Abandoning any pretense of bipartisanship, Chairman Nunes raced to the White House and to the press to perpetuate the Trump Administration’s misinformation campaign.
The unmasking of legally intercepted intelligence is often appropriate and necessary to understand the context of foreign intelligence information. Chairman Nunes’ actions are disrespectful of Ranking Member Schiff and the bipartisan membership of the Intel Committee. Republicans are grasping at straws because the FBI Director confirmed that President Obama did not wiretap President Trump, and affirmed an investigation of coordination between the Russians and individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign in the election.
Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. Congress must create a comprehensive, independent, bipartisan commission to expose the full truth of the Trump-Russia connection.
Pelosi is correct that Nunes appears to be helping Trump distract from the bombshell news made by FBI Director James Comey earlier in the week, when he told Congress that the Trump campaign is currently under investigation for its ties to Russia and that there is no evidence to substantiate the president’s ridiculous claim that Obama was monitoring Trump through his microwave.
After a disastrous week for the president and Republicans in general, it’s no wonder his GOP allies in Congress are trying to change the subject or create irrelevant diversions to protect their leader.
But not all Republicans are on board with Nunes’s irresponsible behavior today. Conservative MSNBC ‘Morning Joe’ host Joe Scarborough posted a scathing tweet a short time ago, saying that Nunes needs to be removed from his post as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
If the Republican Party wants to do what is best for this country and its national security, they will remove Devin Nunes as Intel Chairman.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) March 22, 2017
While the president predictably pounced on Nunes’s comments today by saying he feels “somewhat” vindicated by them, the American people should keep their eye on the ball and recognize that none of what the GOP congressman said proves any of the lies Trump spewed in his paranoid, unhinged series of tweets earlier in the month.
President Obama did not order surveillance of Trump Tower before the election, and nothing Nunes said changes that reality. What has changed is that Nunes has officially proven himself unfit to run this investigation.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.