Devin Nunes Finds That Shilling for Donald Trump is Paying Off - Literally

Devin Nunes was far from being a national figure before President Donald Trump took office. Thanks to his work defending the president through his position as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, the California Republican has become notorious for his role in obstructing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election -- and has become a top target for Democrats hoping to flip the House in this fall's midterm elections. But if newly leaked fundraising numbers are any indication, Nunes' celebrity among Trump supporters has propelled him to a position where he'll only feel more emboldened to shill on behalf of the president.

Nunes managed to raise roughly $2.5 million over the last six weeks for his re-election campaign this year, according to the Washington Examiner. Overall Nunes has raised $5 million, including $1.25 million raised in the first fiscal quarter of 2018, more than he raised in all of 2017. Most of the money is raised outside California's 22nd congressional district -- an unglamorous agricultural region in the state's Central Valley -- from Republicans around the country who have become aware of Nunes thanks to his high-profile role in defending Trump and attempting to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"If you’ve got the attention of the grassroots — particularly if you’re investigating the president or defending him — it’s a smart investment to make," a Republican consultant told the Examiner about Nunes' fundraising program.

Trump himself recently acknowledged his political debt to Nunes.

"A very courageous man — he’s courageous," Trump said of Nunes as the two men attended a ceremony at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, recently. "Thank you very much, Devin, for being here, appreciate it."

Nunes also attacked his hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, after a reporter asked the congressman whether he plans on hosting local forums or town hall meetings in his home district. (Republican candidates have been known to shy away from those events or heavily monitor who attends them to avoid clashes with constituents upset about their policies.) In his response, Nunes channeled Trump by refusing to answer the question and instead claiming the newspaper was out to get him.

"Your paper is a joke to even bring these issues up or raise these issues," Nunes told the Bee. "I actually feel bad for the people who work at the Bee because sadly it's become just a left-wing rag. And it's unfortunate that we're in this situation. But when the paper just becomes part of regurgitating Democratic talking points, it's no longer a news outlet that's actually being fair or objective. It's not objective journalism. So just the fact that those would be issues are silly."

He added, "Because, the Bee especially should know this, that for many many years I have held a lot of educational forums over the years. Big forums, small forums. And we continue to do that and we will continue to do it."

Regardless of whether Nunes actually winds up catering to his constituents, his services for Trump have made enough headlines that he will likely have little trouble continue to politically capitalize on them as he commences with his reelection campaign.

In April 2017, as Trump was attempting to distract from the Russia investigation by falsely claiming that Trump Tower had been wiretapped, Nunes publicly discussed classified foreign surveillance reports that he had viewed on the White House's grounds in order to claim that they had been wrongly unmasked by President Barack Obama's administration, according to the Washington Post. The House Ethics Committee later decided to investigate whether Nunes had "made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct," with Nunes recusing himself from the Russia probe during the investigative period (which has since ended).

A subsequent report by the New Yorker later revealed that the White House had told the intelligence community that they were "going to mobilize to find something to justify the president’s tweet that he was being surveilled." Shortly after that happened, Nunes was summoned to the White House to view the documents in question, which were later determined to have not actually demonstrated any improper surveillance.

That same month, Nunes told Republicans at a Tulare County Lincoln Dinner that he didn't accept the premise that the Trump-Russia scandal should be investigated.

"The Democrats don’t want an investigation on Russia. They want an independent commission," Nunes was recorded saying. "Why do they want an independent commission? Because they want to continue the narrative that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are best friends, and that’s the reason that he won, because Hillary Clinton would have never lost on her own; it had to be someone else’s fault."

In February 2018, Nunes once again found himself at the center of a controversy involving an attempt to deflect attention from or outright discredit the Trump-Russia scandal. After drumming up support for a #releasethememo movement online — claiming that a memo written by Republicans would discredit the Steele dossier and, in turn, the entire Trump-Russia investigation — the actual Nunes memo wound up simply asserting that the Steele dossier had been politically biased and should not have been used. Not only did it fail to prove that Steele's work had been politically biased, it failed to establish that even such a bias would have made the larger investigation into Trump's campaign improper or illegal.

As recently as this month, Nunes made a big deal about threatening to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt by claiming he was being stonewalled on vital information, even though the Justice Department had explained that "disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities."

Devin Nunes may have proof of the Trump-Russia smoking gun

When House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California seemed to try to create a fake scandal about former national security adviser Susan Rice, he most likely did so to distract from the investigation into the Donald Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia. It is unlikely that he anticipated that his actions could provide damning information about the Trump team. Although Nunes' report didn't expose any improprieties by either former President Barack Obama or his aides, it revealed that some of Trump's aides may have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits unauthorized American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments that have a dispute with the United States, according to Reuters. As a result, Nunes' reports could also become part of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the allegations against the Trump campaign and Russia. Nunes stirred up controversy when he secretly met with a White House intelligence official and used that meeting as a pretext for accusing Rice of improperly unmasking American citizens whose communications with Russians may have been discovered in intelligence gathering. Nunes stepped down from the investigation and it was later revealed that as far back as April, he did not take the potential charges seriously. As one source told Reuters regarding meetings between Russian officials and high ranking Trump campaign aides like former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner: An obvious question is how all these meetings and conversations were set up. Who set them up? What was their purpose? What were the agendas? Who approved them? Who was briefed on them afterward? Signals intelligence might shed some light on that. There is no evidence that either Rice or any other Obama administration official either misused intelligence about the Trump campaign or leaked it to the media.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.