Thursday, March 30, 2017

High Nunes


Last month not even Devin Nunes' own constituents knew who they hell he was. Today he's a household name-- in a bad way. He's in a league with Darrell Issa, Steve King, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Louie Gohmert... congressmembers who people have heard of... and detest. Or-- Draco Malfoy and Voldemort, Captain Barbossa, Hans Landa, the Green Goblin, Loki, Ras al Ghul, Doctor Octopus, Saruman, Negan and The Joker. Foo on you, Devin Nunes! Too bad the clowns at the DCCC don't understand the value of a good old fashioned villiain. You know how many times they're targeted him since he was first entered Congress in 2003? That's right: none. Never, not once. It's a red district-- but not that red. More Latinos live there than whites. With a little elbow grease, a couple cycles and some money, Devin Nunes would be selling his ass on K Street, his ultimate destiny anyway.

Yesterday Philip Bump featured him in a column, The Nunes-White House Question, Assessed Minute-by-Minute-- map included (not of CA-22, of the White House). Bump's column ran the same time that Frank Bruni's did-- not in the Fresno Bee or the Visalia Times-Delta but in the NY Times-- and with a swell title: Devin Nunes Is Dangerous. Bruni doesn't think Nunes sees himself as Negan or Voldemort, but... Jason Bourne. "To sneak onto the White House grounds for that rendezvous with an unnamed source last week, he switched cars and ditched aides, vanishing into the night. But Senator Lindsey Graham looks at him and sees a different character. Graham said on the Today show on Tuesday that Nunes was bumbling his way though something of an' Inspector Clouseau investigation,' a reference to the fantastically inept protagonist of the Pink Panther comedies. I salute Graham’s movie vocabulary. I quibble with his metaphor. While Clouseau was a benign fool, there’s nothing benign about Nunes’s foolishness.

Not that the hometown papers are ignoring their now-infamous congressman. The most widely-read newspaper in his Central Valley district was not very dramatic, just painfully straight-forward: Russia-Trump Probe Is In Chaos, And Rep. Devin Nunes Is To Blame. Luckily for him, Nunes doesn't bother with town hall meetings with his constituents. The editorial board:
[T]he performance of the Tulare Republican was so inept and bewildering that a fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday that a bipartisan special select committee should investigate Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign.

...First, with millions of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, wanting the committee to provide clarity on Russia’s involvement in the election and whether members of Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russians to weaken Clinton’s prospects, Nunes tried to steer the committee’s focus to identifying leakers of information embarrassing to President Trump.

It is an old trick in Washington, D.C., and one that rarely, if ever, works. Just ask Richard Nixon.

Then, Nunes-- a Trump transition team member-- betrayed the Constitution and its separation of powers by running like an errand boy to the White House to share with Trump classified information that he had received.

Before going to the White House, however, Nunes held a news conference at which he announced that the communications of Trump transition officials-- possibly including President Trump himself-- may have been “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.”

Nunes also said the intercepted communications did not appear to be related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Trump associates’ contacts with Russia or any criminal warrants.

These events Wednesday ambushed other committee members. Nunes had not shared the information with them before spilling his guts to the president and to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

That’s a shame. The Intelligence committee has a long tradition of being truly bipartisan. This is because the committee’s work is essential to keeping Americans safe. The committee is supposed to be about something much bigger than politics. And Intelligence committee chairs, be they Republican or Democrat, long have honored that charge.

Trump, of course, was pleased by what Nunes did, and said he felt “somewhat” vindicated by the revelations, which provided partial cover for his unsubstantiated Twitter claim that President Obama had “wiretapped” his New York skyscraper during the election.

As subservient as Nunes was to Trump on Wednesday, he did not give the president exactly what he wanted. As FBI Director James Comey had done Monday during the Intelligence committee’s public hearing, Nunes said hat Trump’s claim about Obama wiretapping him was false. Perhaps Nunes thought he could have it both ways by letting Trump use him, but then telling the press that the new reports offered no such evidence.

Nunes’ defenders say that he did nothing wrong and that President Trump deserved to have the information. But Nunes himself exposed the emptiness of that argument by privately apologizing to his Democratic colleagues on the committee.

Americans can distinguish between a hard-nosed fact-finder and a surrogate who shares information with a White House under FBI investigation.

Bring on the bipartisan special select committee-- as was done with Benghazi-- and a special prosecutor.
Nunes even made it into the hallowed pages of the New Yorker this week... where Ryan Lizza proceeded to rip him to shreds.

The evidence is now clear that the White House and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have worked together to halt what was previously billed as a sweeping investigation of Russian interference in last year’s election. “We’ve been frozen,” Jim Himes, a Democratic representative from Connecticut who is a member of the Committee, said.

...Since then, Nunes and the White House have kicked up a cloud of peripheral issues that have distracted attention from Comey’s testimony and that of Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency; Nunes and the Trump Administration have essentially shut down the investigation. Last night, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, called for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation. “All of this has cast such a cloud on the public perception of his impartiality that I think it would be in his interest as well as the committee’s,” he told me.

Since last Monday’s hearing, Nunes, who was a member of the Trump transition team, has spoken repeatedly about the issue of incidental collection, the intelligence community’s term for the communications of innocent Americans that can be swept up when the N.S.A. or other agencies legally spy on a foreign target. The Russian Ambassador, a legal target of surveillance, was recorded talking to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, who was a victim of incidental collection.

The White House and Nunes were clearly coördinating this strategy. A few days before the hearing, Trump seemed to offer a preview of it. In an interview on Fox News, the President said that he “will be submitting things” to Nunes’s committee “very soon,” and “perhaps speaking about this next week,” adding that “you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

This morning the L.A. Times' editors jumped in as well with a damning OpEd from Conor Friedersdorf, Do you live in Devin Nunes' district? Pick up the phone and call his office immediately. How's that for a headline? How's this for a first line? "Rep. Devin Nunes blew it." The editorial didn't lighten up.
He was in a position to perform a vital service. As a conservative commentator at National Review put it, "The American body politic is awash in conspiracy theories, mistrust, and wild claims of espionage and criminality. It needs leaders. It needs competence. It needs integrity."

Had Nunes comported himself honorably, he could have followed the evidence where it led, gone before the public and credibly informed us that all the president's men are innocent of wrongdoing-- or that President Trump or someone on his team is guilty of misconduct or even treason.

Instead, Nunes failed his Central Valley district and his country.

His reputation, his credibility and his ability to do his job are in tatters due to a series of actions that suggest he is lying to the public and colluding with the Trump White House. The question is: Will his constituents do anything about it?

His dubious behavior became impossible to ignore last week, when he was asked by a reporter about Carter Page, a former Trump aide who met with Russia's ambassador to the United States at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and Roger Stone, a Trump political advisor who communicated on Twitter with a hacker involved in the leak of DNC emails.

Nunes replied that he had never heard of either man.

“You’ve not heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone?” the incredulous reporter pressed.

“No,” Nunes affirmed.

Nunes was a member of the executive committee that led Trump's transition team. It would be very surprising if he hadn't heard of either man for that reason alone. Of course, there's no way to prove with certainty that he was lying. But if he was being truthful, his answer suggests staggering incompetence. How could the man leading an investigation into Russia's involvement in the U.S. election have zero knowledge of two former Trump aides widely reported to have suspicious ties to Russia?

...We’ve still got a republic. Let’s keep it.
I think the craziest thing I heard about this so far, though, came from another far right House Republican. MSNBC has Florida crackpot Ted Yoho on this morning and he literally said that Nunes "works for the president and answers to the president." Apparently Yoho never took a basic civics course in elementary school.

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At 9:39 PM, Blogger Susan Klein said...

What a difference a day makes! I thought all along Nunes dunce-like moves were being choreographed by the WH to create a diversion while they scrambled to learn what Flynn has likely already shared, or is about to. With the Senate committee now taking over, Nunes and the House committee are inert. But his antics bought the WH two solid days of distraction in the news cycle while they figured out long before T will theatrically resign.

At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


An investigation into the campaign of a president of a US political party, conducted in the houses of congress controlled by the SAME political party, turn out NOT to be fair and balanced!?!

WhoEVER could have foreseen that?!?

John Puma

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Too bad the clowns at the DCCC don't understand the value of a good old fashioned villiain."

wrong. they DCCC uses each occurrence as a means to raise money from the hapless rubes (on the DCCC list) from the district and state of origin of each dumbfucktard.

Here's how it works: Dumbfucktard says/does something outrageous; DCCC sends out requests for money to help defeat dumbfucktard; DCCC doesn't do shit to defeat dumbfucktard.


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