Intelligence Officials Are Worried Devin Nunes Would Endanger a U.S. Citizen's Life to Hurt Mueller

It seems as if Devin Nunes is protecting Russian oligarchs and endangering U.S. sources … and yes, there is a name for that.

But it’s also possible that Nunes is only protecting Nunes. Maybe it’s time for the DOJ to check and make sure that Devin Nunes hasn’t been on the receiving end of a “funnel.”The House Intelligence Committee and the Department of Justice remain locked in a conflict over a single issue: No one trusts Devin Nunes.

Last Wednesday, senior FBI and national intelligence officials relayed an urgent message to the White House: Information being sought by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes could endanger a top-secret intelligence source.

The reason it could endanger that source is that Nunes has demonstrated that he is willing to leak, distort information, and collaborate with the White House in any way that he can in order to obstruct the investigation into connections with Russia. And even Donald Trump appears willing to concede that Nunes wouldn’t let a little thing like endangering the value—and life—of a U.S. source stand in the way.

Top White House officials, with the assent of President Trump, agreed to back the decision to withhold the information. They were persuaded that turning over Justice Department documents could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI, according to multiple people familiar with the discussion and the person’s role.

Nunes had previously been told by the DOJ that his attempts to extract documents about an ongoing investigation were potentially harmful to the completion of that investigation. But that only confirmed what Trump’s reliable investigation-wrecker wanted to hear. If he can force the DOJ to turn over inside information on what special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has collected, Nunes can then feed that information back to Trump, making it possible to mount the best defense—or for Trump to fire Mueller before the information becomes public. And if it means putting the lives of U.S. sources in danger, that seems a risk that Nunes is entirely willing to take.

As those questioned by Mueller make it clear, he’s still focused on collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, and the revelations about Michael Cohen show a shell company that seemingly existed only for the purpose of accepting large sums of money from both foreign and domestic corporations. It seems more certain than ever that many members of the Trump team are in serious trouble over both instances of conspiracy and obstruction.

That’s a group that could not only include Donald Trump, but could easily pull in transition team member Devin Nunes, who is not giving up in his fight to spoil the investigation, no matter what it takes.

Nunes isn’t letting appeals to his conscience, or common sense, get in his way.

The leader of the House Intelligence Committee is threatening to move quickly on a vote to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress if the Department of Justice doesn’t turn over material related to the Russia investigation.

Chairman Devin Nunes said it doesn’t matter that Sessions recused himself from decisions regarding Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election; he’s the head of the Justice Department, so he would be the initial target of a contempt resolution.

The FBI and DOJ have made it clear that even a redacted version of the information Nunes is after would be dangerous, not just to the investigation, but to the source. Even the nature of the information the documents would reveal would likely make the placement and access of the source clear, and make determining the actual name of the source a simple matter.

Genuine lives are at stake. But Nunes is insisting that his right to “oversight” of the DOJ trumps the value of those lives. He knows from the way the DOJ is trying to protect this information that it is important. So, just as he did when he bypassed intelligence concerns over the contents of his infamous “release the memo” memo, Nunes is determined to put in his dagger where it does the most harm.

“We know they have a long history of stonewalling us, and we’re well aware of it, that’s why we need to move more quickly than usual,” Nunes said in a brief interview. “We’re not going to give them the opportunity to squirm around and put lies out and mislead and obfuscate like they’ve done in the past. Those days are over.”

The reasons for not trusting Nunes are excellent. More than a year ago, Nunes was forced to step aside from his role at the helm of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia after it became clear that this discoveries about so-called “unmasking” by officials of the Obama administration were not just false, but generated within the Trump White House. And Nunes faced a visit to the ethics committee specifically over:

… allegations that “Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”

The Republican-led committee eventually dropped the allegations against Nunes, and he never actually stepped away from taking an active role in the House Intelligence Committee. Throughout the aborted investigation, he blocked all Democratic subpoena requests for documents, and refused to call witnesses that Democrats requested — including Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

It seems as if Devin Nunes is protecting Russian oligarchs and endangering U.S. sources … and yes, there is a name for that.

But it’s also possible that Nunes is only protecting Nunes. Maybe it’s time for the DOJ to check and make sure that Devin Nunes hasn’t been on the receiving end of a “funnel.”

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