Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the former House Intelligence Committee chairman who famously sued a Twitter parody account purporting to be his cow (unsuccessfully, so far), is leaving Congress for greener pastures. Starting in January, Nunes will be chief executive of former President Donald Trump's social media startup, Trump Media & Technology Group, the company announced Monday evening. Nunues has told colleagues he will resign from Congress, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Nunes' imminent departure was cheered by Democrats, not only because he has been an elusive top target in recent elections but also because it will give them an extra vote to spare in the House until his replacement is elected in mid-2022, as columnist Bill Scher notes.
The decision to walk away also puzzled some longtime Washington observers. "If the GOP were to take back the House majority in 2022, Nunes would be in line to be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee," The Washington Post reports. "By stepping down, he would be potentially giving up what is considered the most powerful committee gavel."
But Nunes' safe Republican district would become much more competitive under a draft California redistricting map, the Post reports. There was speculation he would switch districts, but it's also "not a surprise" he's joining Trump's media company, "and not just because of his steadfast allegiance to the former president," Politico's Kate Irby writes. "The company is expected to act as a Trump megaphone of sorts," and an end run around Big Tech and the mainstream press, roles Nunes has already embraced over the past five years.
There is some risk in joining Trump Media & Technology Group, though, after the company disclosed Monday it's facing scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over its proposed merger with blank-check company Digital World Acquisition Corp. Trump's startup announced $1 billion in investments Saturday, once the merger is complete, though "none of the investors were identified, which is highly unusual for this sort of transaction," Axios reports.
Trump's startup also "has not yet released any products to the public and missed its self-imposed deadline to roll out a beta-test version of its social media service in November," and before Nunes, the only employees identified by their full names — not just first names and last initial — were Trump, as chairman, and streaming-content executive Scott St. John, the Post reports.