As previously reported by Restore Progress, Republican congressman Devin Nunes dealt a severe blow to the credibility of the House Intelligence Committee this week when he – without notice to other committee members – met with Trump to discuss the Committee’s investigation into Trump’s baseless wiretapping claims, and then held a press conference designed to provide Trump with political cover. Nunes’ actions were immediately condemned, with members of both parties demanding that the Committee hand over its investigation to an independent panel.
Many have speculated that Nunes, one of Trump’s top surrogates, was ordered to hold the press conference by Trump himself. Sean Spicer, when asked whether the White House had communicated with Nunes, refused to give a firm denial. Now, media outlets are reporting that in the day prior to Nunes’ political stunt, he received a mysterious message on his phone – and then ditched his staffers without further word.
As reported by the Daily Beast: “Hours before the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced his shocking claims about surveillance of the Trump transition team on Wednesday morning, he practically disappeared.”
“Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone, three committee officials and a former national security official with ties to the committee told the Daily Beast. After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts.”
“By the next morning, Nunes hastily announced a press conference. His own aides, up to the most senior level, did not know what their boss planned to say next. Nunes’ choice to keep senior staff out of the loop was highly unusual.”
It is not clear who issued the communication to Nunes. We hope that when the Committee holds its next public hearing, Democrats will demand that Nunes state, on the record, whether it was the Trump White House who orchestrated Nunes’ stunt. Nunes has already deeply embarrassed himself and the Committee. Should it turn out that he did so at the behest of the Trump White House, at the very minimum, Nunes should be censured and forced to resign from the Committee.