Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is either really smart and conniving, or he’s pretty stupid and is exposing himself to criminal liability for obstruction of justice.
My money’s on the latter.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes called a press conference [Wednesday afternoon] to announce that he intended to commit a blatant act of criminal obstruction of justice with respect to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump and Trump associates’ connections to the Russians’ interference in our presidential election. Nunes began by declaring that President-Elect Trump’s personal communications may have been intercepted during the Transition due to “incidental collection” during an unrelated, completely legal and FISA-approved investigation.
He then said that the potential surveillance was not related to Russia, that it wasn’t clear that it was collected at Trump Tower and that he was “alarmed by it.”
He further stated that he had advised House Speaker Paul Ryan of his findings and that he was traveling to the White House this afternoon to share with them information that had been provided to him by the FBI in a classified setting for the purposes of advancing a congressional investigation into potential crimes committed by the people he will be meeting in the White House.
He claims that the surveillance is unrelated to Russia, and that may be his only criminal defense. He better hope that it will stand up in court. His press conference performance was a dishonest attempt to suggest that perhaps Trump wasn’t completely wrong when he said that Trump Tower was wiretapped at the behest of President Obama. He couldn’t assert either of those things but he made it seem like he had evidence pointing in that direction.
And his failure to share this information with the Democrats or notify them that he would be holding the press conference shows just how disingenuous his “alarm” really is.
But it’s his intent to share classified investigatory information with the subjects of a counterintelligence (and potentially criminal) probe that constitutes a crime. He must not be very bright. And he’s just destroyed his own committee’s investigation.
My guess is that Mr. Nunes decided that the probe into the Russian connection to the Trump campaign was skating too close to revealing what had gone on last year and he had to do something to blow the investigation out of the water. Hence his press conferences and his trip to the White House to basically short-sheet his own committee.
If this was an episode of “Law & Order” or some such legal process TV show, we’d find out that Mr. Nunes has been promised a really nice payoff from the Trump administration for his efforts. Given Trump’s record in paying for services received, Mr. Nunes will be left holding the bag, but the investigation by his committee will be blown to smithereens.