Opinion: Devin Nunes is acting as if the truth were dangerous. Why?

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 carved his own name prominently on that list. The man charged with leading bipartisan congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies — including the ongoing investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia — has in effect abandoned that critical role, choosing instead to use his position as a platform to provide political cover for President Trump.

And the thing is, he’s botching that second job as well.

Indeed, Nunes’ strange behavior, his constantly shifting stories and his seemingly panicked management style have made Trump look more guilty, even if he really isn’t. With his behavior, Nunes has also made it clear that we need an independent, nonpartisan counsel to investigate the increasingly troubling links between the Trump campaign, the Trump business empire and Russian intelligence operatives, and to give the American people a definitive account of what has happened.

The latest chapter in this story began on March 4, when Trump claimed on Twitter that Barack Obama had ordered the tapping of his phones at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, comparing it to the 1972 Watergate break-in during which Republican operatives broke into Democratic headquarters to steal campaign files. Basically, Trump publicly accused both Obama and the U.S. intelligence community of major felonies that if proved could put people into prison for years, and deservedly so.

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, increasingly caught in a web of his own devising. (AP)

Yet nobody believed Trump. The head of the FBI and of the NSA both publicly testified, under oath in a committee hearing chaired by Nunes, that the claims by the president they served had no basis in fact. Nunes himself was even forced to publicly admit that Trump’s claim was groundless, although he was clearly reluctant to do so.

Shortly thereafter, Nunes felt obliged to launch his disinformation campaign.

On March 22, Nunes called a surprise press conference to announce that based on secret information that he had just been given by a secret source, phone conversations between Trump transition members and foreign officials had indeed been wiretapped. Nunes made that announcement before sharing any of that information with his fellow Intelligence Committee members, as committee rules and practice require. Upon concluding his press conference, Nunes marched over to the White House to brief Trump himself on this supposed discovery.

Clearly, Nunes’ loyalty to Trump outweighed his responsibility to his own committee, which to this day has yet to see the material that Nunes gave Trump. In fact, when Nunes was asked why he had taken that bizarre action, 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 Committee chairman.

Furthermore, and by his own account, the information that Nunes was given by his source actually disproved every single element of Trump’s bombshell claim:

— According to Nunes, all the wiretapping that his “secret source” had showed him had been done legally, under approved court order. There was no “rogue” operation.

— By Nunes’ own account, all of the taped conversations that he saw occurred after the election, during the transition effort, and not during the campaign as Trump had claimed.

— Again by Nunes’ own account, Trump and his team had not been the target of the wiretaps, as the president claimed; instead, some conversations between Trump transition officials and officials from foreign governments may have been incidentally picked up by standard wiretapping targeting those foreign officials.

(It was widely reported during the Trump transition that his neophyte transition team was making calls to foreign governments and foreign officials on unsecured phones. It’s no surprise that such calls would show up on legal wiretaps — the surprise would have been if they didn’t. You may have your own privacy concerns with those practices — I certainly do — but our legal and political systems came to terms with it a long time ago.)

The only part of Nunes’ story that has raised legitimate concerns was his claim that the identity of members of Trump’s team had been inappropriately “unmasked” in wiretap transcripts. By law, the identity of U.S. citizens picked up accidentally in such wiretaps are supposed to remain hidden in such transcripts. But even that claim is now in serious question, since Nunes — once more, by his own account — is now saying that most identities in the transcripts had been masked, but that he could tell from the context who it might have been.

That is a far cry from his original claim.

And where did this alleged material come from? If you’ve followed me so far, here is where the story leaps from the merely ridiculous to the completely absurd:

Nunes had steadfastly refused to explain where he got his information, citing the need to protect sources, but in recent days the story has emerged anyway. As the chairman now concedes, he had been riding in a car with a staff member the night before when he was summoned by phone to the grounds of the Trump White House. After ditching the staff member, Nunes went to the offices of the National Security Council, where he was shown the secret material that would help him ease the media pressure on Trump.

Let’s review that, just to let it sink in:

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — the man leading an allegedly impartial investigation into Trump ties with Russia — is secretly summoned to the grounds of the Trump White House in the dark of night and handed secret information by officials of the Trump administration. The next day, the allegedly impartial chairman then holds a press conference revealing that data, implying falsely that it substantiates Trump’s charge of wiretapping.

From the press conference, the chairman ostentatiously marches back to the Trump White House to inform the president of the information that had originated from the Trump White House just the night before.

It’s a clown act. And instead of dispelling doubts and suspicions about Trump’s campaign, it accentuates them. If Nunes thought that a fair and impartial investigation would clear Trump, why hasn’t he conducted that fair and impartial investigation? Why has he repeatedly acted as if the truth were dangerous?

UPDATE at 11:50 a.m.:

The latest bizarre twist involves testimony that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was initially scheduled to provide in a public hearing today. The session was canceled last week by Nunes, supposedly to make room on the calendar for secret testimony by FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Mike Rogers. The second Comey/Rogers hearing has itself been canceled.

According to new reporting by The Washington Post, however, the Trump White House had moved to block that testimony by Yates, arguing that attorney/client and executive privilege forbids her from testifying without White House permission. Nunes claims that his decision to cancel Yates’ testimony was not influenced by the White House objection.

Reader Comments 0

1697 comments
MyBad
MyBad

It now appears that Bookman and his crew of loyal hangers-on are starting to lose their grip on reality. 

It's time to shut it, Jay, because when the investigation is finished, you are going to look like an idiot (well, more than what you actually are now) for being so utterly wrong yet you just keep spouting off.


There is nothing more vile, mean, or vicious than a Liberal who has seen his 'agenda' thwarted.

1stTruthOMeter
1stTruthOMeter

Trump's latest attempt at changing the subject is why we are not investigating Bill and Hillary and Obama. None of them is the current president, that's why. But if Trump really wants to look back to take the heat off himself, why don't we investigate Watergate again just to remind everyone of the last Republican president to leave office in disgrace. Or let's investigate who killed Lincoln. Does that go back far enough, Donald?

F-15
F-15

@1stTruthOMeter Obama left in a cloud of controversy and despite the lies we are being told by CNN and MSNBC, there is plenty of evidence that Obama ordered surveillance of the Trump election team.  


Of course creepy Uncle Bill Clinton was impeached and since has been known to visit the isle of pedophilia built by his friend, Epstien.  

1stTruthOMeter
1stTruthOMeter

Here's what "Sherlock" TruthOMeter thinks:

1. Nenes himself was picked up on the incidental sweep while he was working on the Trump transition team, and he freaked out.

2. Trump and Co. are still fuming over Sessions' recusal and warned Nenes not to recuse himself no matter what.

3. Trump's wire tap lie has been debunked by NSA and FBI, and now he is looking for plausible coverage as he changes the allegation.

Our country is headed for a psychological breakdown thanks to Trump.

F-15
F-15

@1stTruthOMeter More of a psychological breakdown than we see daily by progressives and the sleazy media? 

Aegis Groove
Aegis Groove

Because he puts party over country, like almost every other sitting Republican official.

independentiii
independentiii

"well above their competence level. U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes" - you got that right!  And your article backs up that assesment with facts - in spades.  

What bumblefuc$ers some of these Republicans are turning out to be.

jezel
jezel

I remember sheltering under a desk in grade school....practicing for a Russian nuclear bomb blast....stocking the basement for nuclear fallout....going to bed during the Cuban middle crisis wondering if I would wake up....

Now we have a political party refusing to investigate Russian meddling in our democracy...what the heck is going on ? Was Kruchev correct when he said .,,we will bury you without firing a shot ?

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Nunes may not be the smartest card in the deck, but everybody can see the legal actions pending and the least wary know to stay out of the fray:  

Article II, Section 4, United States Constitution:The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Ralph-43  Anyone who believes, at this point, that Trump is about to be impeached definitely won't be awarded the "Smartest Card in the Deck" award, either.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Just to rub it in @DownInAlbany, you told a big one this morning.  LOL


DownInAlbany 19 minutes ago

@StraightNoChaser @DownInAlbany  And, he also loosened up the rules that dictate dissemination of information on political enemies.


Your proof used that Obama changed the rules to go after Trump. PLEASE take note of the date.  ROTFLMAO


The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release January 17, 2014 Pesidential Policy Directive -- Signals Intelligence Activities

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/17/presidential-policy-directive-signals-intelligence-activities

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@StraightNoChaser @DownInAlbany  And, he also loosened up the rules that dictate dissemination of information on political enemies.


Your proof used that Obama changed the rules to go after Trump. PLEASE take note of the date.   You OBVIOUSLY have a huge comprehension problem.

honested
honested

Is it true that the First Mail Order Bride will be spending the weekend in Vidalia to help weed the onions?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@honested @Visual_Cortex  And, you guys tout yourselves as the "defender of women's rights."  I guess those rights are only afforded to women with a "D" behind their name.

honested
honested

@Visual_Cortex @honested 

Sorry, just baiting.

I realize she is a quasi-private citizen but what a national embarrassment it will be if the only 'public service' she does is to help Secretery devos with a ribbon cutting for an upscale, voucher funded private school or maybe breaking a bottle of champagne on a section of "the wall".

Do we no longer have a human face in the White House?


Besides, Mrs. Obama exemplified the best an American Woman has to offer from several facets of the human experience. Is it too much to ask for continuation?

honested
honested

@DownInAlbany @honested @Visual_Cortex 

No, she has the right to hide out in New York and I guess we TaxPayers have the extended responsibility to provide extra, outrageously expensive protection to Shangri La.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@honested


First Mail Order Bride

erm... you're kinda veering into "Moochelle" territory with this, buddy.

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

Trump denies mocking a disabled reporter. "I never even met the guy."

Trump said he donated $1M to veterans.

Trump said he sent investigators to Hawaii. "You will not believe the stuff they are finding out."

Trump said there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia.


Q. Which of the above statement is true?

A. All of them. Trump said all of them.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@King_of_Kolob It plays into the Russian thing for sure.


We are supposed to believe Trump ( a may with very few morals ) would not collude with the Russians? That he wouldn't lie about it


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@King_of_Kolob

Trump said he sent investigators to Hawaii.

In fairness, just because he SENT people to Hawaii, doesn't mean they actually WENT to Hawaii.

(that, to me, remains the hilarious kicker--apparently there's no evidence that anyone actually set foot on Oahu to do this "investigation" Trump yammered about. I know, I know, can't prove a negative, but sheesh.)

honested
honested

@King_of_Kolob 

If the emperor said it, it must be true.

If the emperor did it, it must be legal.

I thought we had a Constitution to prevent this sort of flackery.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@StraightNoChaser @DownInAlbany  I think you should reread my comment, as it read, something to the effect...Obama changed the rules on dissemination of intelligence info...not to "go after Trump."  He didn't have to change the rules to go after him, he changed the rules so that the what he found after he went after him could be spread.

honested
honested

@DownInAlbany @StraightNoChaser 

Or you could show a tiny bit of patriotism and express some concern about the National Embarrassment collaborating with a hostile foreign power.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@DownInAlbany @StraightNoChaser No keep posting lies like you did down below, that proof you offered up about Obama changing rules to go after Trump was done in 2014. Fred Sanford said it better, "you big _____"  LOL

TBS
TBS

Reminds me of all the praise and accolades the conservatives were handing out for repeal and replace

Went something like this

But but but the ACA

But but but Obama

But but but Pelosi

Did anyone ever post even one comment that touted the benefits of the replacement plan?

Yet they were pouting when it failed

Hilarious

MyBad
MyBad

@honested You're an idiot who has zero evidence of what you are spouting. And, secondly, Trump didn't prevent anything from happening.

Too bad you can't see beyond your own conspiracy theories and made-up truths.

Perhaps getting a job and leaving your momma's basement would improve your thought process.