Lord St. Vincent, First Lord of the Admiralty, was addressing the British Parliament in 1805 as Napoleon was dominant in Europe and was amassing a fleet for the invasion of Great Britain. He was asked about the imminent threat of a French invasion, “I don’t say the French can’t come. I only say they can’t come by sea.” That is an appropriate thought to keep in mind on the subject of Devin Nunes and recusal.
It has become something of a sport among Democrats and with some conservatives to insist that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes step down. I suppose that if you believe in leprechauns you could probably believe that the investigations by the House and Senate into the alleged skulduggery involving some or no members of the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials who were plotting to have Trump win while Hillary won the popular vote were going to be high-minded searches for truth. If you took time to consider that 100% of the members of those committees were political partisans, you probably figured out for yourself that political partisanship was the name of the game. If you were conscious during the 9/11 Commission farce when the person most responsible for the attacks on 9/11, Clinton apparatchik Jamie Gorelick, actually had a seat on the commission investigating her, you are still laughing at the idea that these investigations will ever be anything but a) an attack by Democrats on Trump while trying to tie Congressional Republicans to their attacks and b) Congressional Republicans defending an incumbent president because they know what will happen to them in 2018 if they don’t.
Despite the lone cry from North Carolina’s Walter Jones (Jones, if you recall, was the first House GOP member to begin siding with the Democrats in their demand that troops be withdrawn from Iraq back in 2005) for Nunes to recuse himself it seems very unlikely that will happen.
Devin Nunes isn’t going anywhere.
Even as Democrats demand that the California Republican recuse himself from his panel’s Russia investigation and criticism ratchets up from key GOP senators, House Republicans are standing by the embattled Intelligence Committee chairman.
“No and no,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday when asked whether Nunes should recuse himself and if he knew the identity of the source who provided Nunes with evidence he claims showed Trump transition aides were improperly monitored.
Nunes himself rebuffed reporters’ questions Tuesday about whether he’ll continue to lead the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, saying: “Why would I not?” His spokesman followed up by saying in a statement, “There is no chance the chairman will recuse himself, absolutely not.”
One reason Nunes almost certainly will not heed calls to recuse himself: Ryan was kept fully informed of everything he was up to, including his decision last Wednesday to go to the White House to brief the president, according to Nunes.
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong confirmed that Nunes “briefed the speaker that day.”
And that is it in a nutshell. So long as Nunes doesn’t act like a wildman and stray off the reservation, so long as he coordinates his actions with Paul Ryan he’s no going anywhere. Unless and until Paul Ryan precedes him. To paraphrase St. Vincent, I’m not saying Nunes isn’t going to recuse himself, I’m just saying he’s not going to recuse himself as long as Paul Ryan is Speaker.