The fallout continues over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ decision to strike out on his own and view information he felt pertinent to the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as President Trump’s allegations of wiretapping at Trump Tower.
Nunes apparently viewed this information, then went public in a press conference, without discussing any of the details with the committee he chairs. He announced that he’d viewed information that showed “incidental surveillance” of Trump’s team, then later, said the information came from a FISA warrant.
People with more suspicious minds might say he’s attempting to upend this investigation. If that’s not his goal, then he has picked the absolute worst way to handle things.
Several watchdog groups have requested that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Nunes’ actions.
A letter making the request was sent earlier this week.
“We request the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether Representative Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, disclosed classified information to the public on March 22, 2017 in violation of the House ethics rules,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Democracy 21 wrote in a letter to OCE dated March 28.
The specific rule mentioned in the letter mandates House members to “not disclose any classified information” unless “authorized by the House of Representatives or in accordance with its Rules.”
Therein lies the rub.
Nunes acted on his own. He went rogue, and some feel he did it to protect Trump.
Whether that was his goal or not, optics matter, and what he did looked bad.
It looked really bad, as in, political corruption and cover-up bad.
In fact, it looked Devin-Nunes-cannot-be-trusted-to-carry-out-his-duties-as-chairman bad.
There have been calls for Nunes to recuse himself, just as Attorney General Jeff Sessions did (he refuses).
Others have called for a special committee to take over the probe. Several Republicans, such as former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2016 presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones, have both spoken up in favor of a special committee.
The howls from the left are to be expected, as well, but they’re not wrong, in this case, especially if the OCE finds there was misconduct on Nunes’ part.
Nunes wouldn’t reveal his sources for the information, but continued to muddy the waters when it was discovered that he went to the White House the day before making his announcement, allegedly to view the files in a secure location.
That was followed by a report saying it was two White House officials that pretty much put the information in his hands.
It’s bizarre. It looks bad. It’s possibly highly unethical.