Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the connection between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. So is the Senate Intelligence Committee. And the Senate Judiciary Committee. And the House Intelligence Committee. But there is another investigation underway. A very special investigation.
Nunes, who despite stepping aside from directing the House Russia investigation has been leading his own separate investigation, accused Sessions and the FBI of stonewalling him repeatedly in a September 1 letter obtained by CNN. In the letter, he threatened to drag Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray before the committee for a public grilling and hold them in contempt of Congress -- a jailable offense -- if they don't hand over the documents.
That’s right. Devin Nunes, the erstwhile head of the House Intelligence Committee who was leading the Russia investigation there before he set out to prove just how ridiculous a sitting congressman could be.
After taking a brief phone call, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) swapped cars and slipped away from his staff, congressional officials said. He appears to have used that unaccounted-for stretch of time to review classified intelligence files brought to his attention by sources he has said he will not name.
Nunes snuck away to the White House, got secret insider information from White House staffers, ran out to visit Paul Ryan, do a press conference, then return to brief the White House on what the White House told him. That was just the start of a period of jaw-dropping silliness that eventually ended with Nunes agreeing to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
The problem—or at least one problem—is that Devin Nunes doesn’t seem to understand what “recuse” means. The bigger problem is he thinks his job is to stop the investigation.
From the beginning, it’s been clear that Devin Nunes has less than zero interest in investigating the issues that the committee is supposed to be covering. Instead, he’s dragged the committee into a prolonged, and utterly wasted trip into an attempt to support Donald Trump’s mad claims that Obama “wiretapped” (remember: the quotes are important) which started with no evidence and ended with no evidence. This waste of time included an even longer side trip into “unmasking” which desperately tried to turn standard practice into a scandal. All of it ended up with Nunes caught in a snarl of lies and nonsense.
Now Devin Nunes is carrying his attempt to cripple the investigation into whole new realms.
In the letter, which was signed only by Nunes and no other members of the House intelligence committee, Nunes explained that he was extending the deadline for responding to the subpoenas to September 14. But he capped it off with a sharp threat.
"If all responsive documents are not produced by the revised deadline, the Attorney General and Director of the FBI (Christopher Wray) shall appear before the committee at 9 a.m. on September 14, 2017 in room HVC-210 of the US Capitol during an open hearing, to explain under oath DOJ's and FBI's unwillingness or inability to comply in full with the subpoenas issued on August 24," Nunes wrote.
It may seem that demanding an appearance from Jefferson Sessions is acting to secure information for the investigation. That’s not what Nunes is about. Nunes wants to prove that the FBI was somehow involved in the Steele dossier so he can attack the FBI and the DOJ’s fitness to carry out any investigation at all.
Nunes then closes the letter by stating that if the Justice Department and FBI do not provide the documents, he will seek to hold Sessions and Wray in contempt of Congress -- which is punishable with up to a year in prison.
Nunes’ days of attempting to derail the investigation have definitely come to a middle. His intention here is to push Sessions into making a statement that can be waved around to “prove” that the FBI and DOJ worked with political opponents of Donald Trump. Because what Devin Nunes is really about is trying to find something to support Trump’s contention that the DOJ, FBI, and Special Counsel’s office are part of an anti-Trump conspiracy.
Nunes is doing exactly what he did when he chased around the White House grounds, pretending there was something to Trump’s wiretapping allegations—being Trump’s number one toady in Congress.
Asked to comment, Nunes told a CNN reporter Tuesday evening: "I'm not talking to you guys."