High Nunes
March 20, 2019

President Trump and George Conway are now in open warfare on Twitter, and Stephen Colbert not unhappily listed some of Conway's critiques of Trump that led to this point, including that Trump "administration is like a like a s--tshow in a dumpster fire." That's especially "awkward," Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, because Conway's wife, Kellyanne Conway, "is one of the flaming trash pile's star turd jugglers."

"But not everyone loves Twitter as much as the president," Colbert said, pointing at the $250 million lawsuit Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) filed against Twitter for allowing accounts to insult him. Nunes specifically complained about two parody accounts, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow, and he included some of the offending tweets. "The only time you can see jokes that crushing is every time you finish a popsicle," Colbert said. And trying to get in on that sweet parody-account action — @ColbertCow went from 1,200 followers to 154,000 and counting after the lawsuit — Colbert unveiled his own, @DevinNunesSkin. "Still thin," he said. "Devin, we look forward to your lawsuit."

Jimmy Kimmel called Nunes "captain of the Donald Trump Fan Club" and "that one zit on the end of your nose that keeps coming back," and he was similarly baffled at the lawsuit. "He is literally suing an imaginary cow," he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "And maybe the craziest part of all ... last Congress, Devin Nunes cosponsored a bill called the 'Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act.' And now he's suing a cow. It's almost like he's a hypocrite." Kimmel insincerely begged people not to follow @DevinCow on Twitter.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah made a show of following @NunesCow. "What a snowflake," he said. "Look, man, I think it's terrible when kids are bullied online, but as a grown man, this should not be a problem for you." He helpfully explained to Nunes how to block trolls and avoid clicking on his mentions. Watch that, and some jokes about Patriots owner Robert Kraft and pigeons, below. Peter Weber

August 29, 2018

Earlier in August, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) secretly slipped away to London, seeking information on former British spy and Trump dossier author Christopher Steele and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand reports. "Nunes requested meetings with the heads of three different British agencies — MI5, MI6, and the Government Communications Headquarters," Britain's equivalent of the National Security Agency, "but those meetings did not pan out," Bertrand says, citing two people familiar with his trip.

Nunes did get a meeting with Madeleine Alessandri, Britain's deputy national security adviser, Bertrand reports, but although British intelligence chiefs would normally meet wit the head of the House intelligence committee, "the people familiar with his trip told me that officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ were wary of entertaining Nunes out of fear that he was 'trying to stir up a controversy.'" Nunes and other allies of President Trump incorrectly blame the Steele dossier for starting the investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia's government.

If you're familiar with Nunes' other "Deep State" misadventures, it might be tempting to laugh at his evidently fruitless London sortie, which follows an unsuccessful fact-finding trip two of his aides reportedly took to London last December. And his Democratic opponent, Andrew Janz, did just that, saying while Nunes didn't have time for his constituents in August, "he did have time to sneak around London and be denied meetings by British Intelligence."

But the attempts by Nunes and his House GOP allies to discredit the Trump-Russia investigation and Steele dossier, including outing a longtime FBI informant, have helped prompt key U.S. intelligence assets in the Kremlin and elsewhere to go cold, The New York Times reported. "Officials said that some allies have cited the exposure of the informant and other intelligence leaks in curbing some of the intelligence they share. And former spies believe that, long-term, the exposure will hurt overseas collection." Peter Weber

June 26, 2018

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. on Monday to hand over the latest batch of files he has demanded related to the FBI's investigation of President Trump's 2016 campaign and its tie to Russia. On Sunday, Nunes said the thousands of documents the Justice Department recently handed House Republicans about the origins of the FBI's investigation raise additional questions, including "whether the FBI and Department of Justice leadership intend to obey the law and fully comply with duly authorized congressional subpoenas." On Monday, the Justice Department said yes, it had already complied.

"Your letter asks whether the Department and the FBI 'intend to obey' the law," Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote Nunes on Monday afternoon. "We believe that is exactly what the Department and the FBI have been doing." The Justice Department has complied with Nunes' subpoenas while protecting ongoing investigations in a manner "consistent with the law," Boyd added. The investigation is now being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Nunes seems particularly interested in confidential informants the FBI used in the beginning of the investigation.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), criticized the Nunes-led effort "to seek documents in a pending investigation for the purpose of assisting the Trump legal team or, if the Justice Department refuses, using that refusal to undermine Mueller's investigation or give the president a pretext to fire Rod Rosenstein," the deputy attorney general. Trump, meanwhile, has supported the efforts by Nunes, a member of his presidential transition executive committee, and on Monday morning the president tweeted a threat to involve himself in the "totally discredited and very expensive Witch Hunt" if the Justice Department doesn't give over the "requested documents." Peter Weber

May 24, 2018

Only two members of Congress — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — will be at a noon Justice Department briefing on Thursday about an FBI informant who contacted members of President Trump's campaign in 2016. But after protests from Democrats and some Republicans that only two House Republicans and no Democrats were invited, there will now be a second briefing at 2 p.m. with the Gang of 8 — the top Senate and House leaders and intelligence committee members from both parties — plus Gowdy. Despite a previous assurance from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that "no member of the White House staff" would be at the top secret briefing, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will attend both briefings.

Representing U.S. intelligence and law enforcement at the briefing will be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats. The Justice Department hasn't said what information will be shared with lawmakers and Kelly about the informant.

The invitees to the second meeting are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Ryan will not attend, due to a "longstanding schedule commitment," according to spokeswoman AshLee Strong, and three Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans — Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), and Lindsay Graham (S.C.) — have also asked to attend.

Kelly brokered the meetings at Trump's insistence, amid unsubstantiated claims by Trump that the FBI "spied" on his campaign for political, not counterintelligence, reasons. His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says Trump should get access to the information, too, even though he's a subject of the investigation. Peter Weber

May 22, 2018

It isn't clear yet who blinked in Monday's extraordinary White House meeting between President Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the FBI director and director of national intelligence over the Justice Department's investigation of Trump's campaign, but the meeting itself was par for the course for Trump, Anderson Cooper said on CNN Monday night. "We know what this is — we've seen it before from President Trump, his surrogates, and supporters whenever Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes a move or some other damaging story hits the president."

This meeting centered around Trump's demand that the Justice Department look for politically motivated spying against his campaign. "The claim of a spy within the Trump campaign comes with, as of yet, little or nothing to back it up and plenty to raise suspicions about its validity, including the central role of someone the president went out of his way to praise today," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Cooper said. For weeks now, Nunes — who was also a leader of Trump's presidential transition team — has been demanding information on a top secret intelligence source the FBI and CIA warned would be in jeopardy if his cover were blown. "Then some right-wing media got ahold of the story," Cooper said, and Nunes' fingerprints were all over those reports.

"The president has been here before, and Devin Nunes has been here before as well," in March 2017, when Nunes briefed Trump on material Nunes had gotten from the White House just days earlier, Cooper said. In that case, "the president rage-tweeted about it, but he never went quite as far about that as he did today." Watch below. Peter Weber

May 10, 2018

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) seems very intent on getting his hands on information about one specific U.S. intelligence source, though he insists he is "not interested in any individual," as he told The Washington Post on Wednesday. And Monday, as his escalating standoff with the Justice Department over sensitive documents became public, Nunes told reporters that "I've never referenced an individual."

According to an unclassified subpoena reviewed by the Post and CNN, however, Nunes demanded "all documents referring or related to the individual referenced in Chairman Nunes' April 24, 2018, classified letter to Attorney General Sessions," and that's the only material he seeks. Nunes' request so concerned the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and other intelligence officials asked the White House to intervene, arguing that handing over the document would endanger the individual in question — a U.S. citizen and longtime FBI and CIA source who the Post says has helped Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation — and compromise an ongoing investigation.

President Trump has sided with the Justice Department for now, but White House officials are urging Rosenstein and Nunes to compromise. So on Thursday, the Justice Department has invited Nunes and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to a classified meeting at the Justice Department to discuss the standoff, the Post and CNN report. House Republicans argue that they are entitled to the documents, even though the Justice Department doesn't usually turn over information about ongoing investigations, and they are skeptical that the source's life is at stake, as Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told CNN:

House Intelligence Committee Republicans also seem hurt that the feds don't trust them. The Justice Department "assumes we will immediately turn and leak that information, which would jeopardize potentially sources and methods," said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), and "that we have a cavalier attitude about such things and we will just release it." Just imagine. Peter Weber

May 9, 2018

On May 2, President Trump took the rare step of siding with the Justice Department against a cadre of tenacious House Republicans who have been battling Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein for increasingly sensitive information about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and the FBI's Hillary Clinton email investigation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. In this case, the demand came from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who has ostensibly recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Senior FBI and national security officials made a special plea to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly last Wednesday, and he and Trump "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," the Post reports. But it's unclear if Trump was told the "information developed by the intelligence source had been provided to the Mueller investigation," and "several administration officials said they fear Trump may reverse course and support Nunes' argument."

It isn't clear what documents Nunes asked for in a classified April 24 letter, but intelligence agencies say it "threatened to cross a red line of compromising sources and methods of U.S. intelligence-gathering," the Post says. "Lawmakers conducting oversight are usually given summaries of the information, but not the intelligence collected directly from wiretaps and sensitive sources," The New York Times explained last week. "Rosenstein and top FBI officials have come to suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence about that investigation so that it could be shared with the White House," the Times added, citing "a former federal law enforcement official familiar with the department's views."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Tuesday that he hasn't discussed this particular request with Nunes but "we expect the administration to comply with our document requests." You can read more about the standoff at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

February 12, 2018

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' (R-Calif.) campaign bankrolls a conservative media site, The California Republican, that looks like a local news site and is classified on Facebook as a "media/news company," Politico reports. The site purports to serve up "the best of U.S., California, and Central Valley news, sports, and analysis," but mostly puts a partisan spin on articles from conservative and mainstream news sites.

The most recent article was titled "Understanding the process behind #ReleaseTheMemo," with a photo of Nunes, who compiled the partisan memo seeking to discredit the Russia investigation. The news itself isn't necessarily "fake," as The California Republican notes in its rebuttal to the Politico article, but a website paid for by a political campaign wouldn't typically be classified as a "news" site, or at least not a real one.

The website was registered in mid-2017 by Fresno consultant Alex Tavalian, who told Politico he has registered several domains for the Nunes campaign but was not involved with The California Republican. Nunes chief of staff Anthony Ratekin responded tartly: "Until Politico retracts its multitude of fake stories on Congressman Nunes, we will not go on the record."

Nunes, a member of President Trump's presidential transition leadership, has sharply politicized the House Intelligence Committee, leading the hometown Fresno Bee to call Nunes "Trump's stooge" out "doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation." Nunes is clearly put off by the bad press, telling Rush Limbaugh last week that "almost every story that runs about me is fake."

Still, his campaign has $3.8 million in cash on hand in a district Trump won by 10 points in 2016, so the negative press doesn't seem to be hurting him much. His main Democratic challenger, Andrew Janz, called The California Republican "typical Devin Nunes," adding: "He's got fake memos, fake websites, and fake news." Peter Weber

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