The AP reported Thursday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is stepping aside from the Trump-Russia investigation due to accusations filed against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Nunes said in a statement. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power.”
Speaker Paul Ryan called the ethics accusations “a distraction” and stood by Nunes’ decision to step away, putting Reps. Mike Conaway and Trey Gowdy at the helm.
“I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as committee chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” Nunes said.
Nunes obtained document references leaked through the intelligence community, and used the White House’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) to view those documents without informing his committee members. Then Bloomberg’s Eli Lake blew the lid off the leaking, exposing former Obama minion Susan Rice as the unmasker-in-chief for Trump “incidental” surveillance.
Here’s the problem, which Lake clearly stated: Is the story about Trump’s Russia ties, or is it about Obama’s surveillance of Trump using the Russia investigation as cover?
Let me suggest that both stories are something-burgers. Depending on where the facts lead, we will know whether Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, was justified in unmasking the names of Trump transition officials or whether the media’s obsession with the government’s Russia investigation was warranted.
I don’t think Rice’s unmasking can be justified. But now, Nunes is out of the way (temporarily), leaving the Democrats room to try to paper that over while playing up the “White House coverup” angle because Nunes went there alone.
The ethics accusations are also something-burgers, but really thin and weak. Politically, it’s better for Nunes to step away. It’s lawfare and political grandstanding by the Democrats, to be sure. They and their media lapdogs really don’t want this investigation cleared up. They want to make hay with it until Trump’s term is done or he quits.
Any Republican who dares to use the Left’s own tactics, leakers, news sources, or the White House to expose the truth will be attacked with lawfare to get them out of the way. Democrats did it to Attorney General Jeff Sessions (which was absolutely a nothingburger), and now they’ve done it to Rep. Devin Nunes.