Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rep. Devin Nunes Trashes GOP's Feigned of Impartiality on Russia Investigation

GOP Congressman Devin Nunes seemingly is out to singlehandedly destroy any ability of Republicans to maintain the pretense that they are impartial in the Congressional investigation of ties between the Trump campaign/transition team and Russian agents/intelligence operatives.  Indeed, Nunes' behavior to date makes the Three Stooges look sophisticated and  discrete.  Between clandestine meetings on at the White House and cancelling open hearings, Nunes' main objective would appear to protect Der Trumpenführer, and his co-conspirators in possible treason at all cost, including his own career and reputation.  Democrats are rightly calling for Nunes' removal as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a number of Republicans now concede that an independent investigative body is needed. In fact, even Dick Chaney, a/k/a Emperor Palpatine, is describing Russia's interference wirh the 2016 presidential election as an "act of war."  A piece in the Washington Post looks at Nunes' one man effort to destroy the GOP's appearance of being impartial.  Here are excerpts:
From the perspective of impartiality, one of the problems with Congress investigating Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election and whether President Trump’s circle had anything to do with it is Congress itself.
It’s a political body made up of — well, politicians. That’s not to say these politicians can’t put on their impartial hats to undertake a large-scale investigation about the independence of U.S. democracy from foreign influence. But congressional investigations have a higher threshold of impartiality to meet than, say, an independent investigation outside the confines of Congress.
Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is making it very hard for his committee to meet those standards of impartiality.
On Monday, Washington was abuzz with news that Nunes, a Trump ally, was on the White House grounds viewing classified information related to the president’s evidence-less claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. A day later, Nunes (R-Calif.) announced that he had information that revealed the president’s conversations during the campaign may have been caught up in a broader, unrelated intelligence net. 
We still don’t know who gave Nunes the surveillance information or its significance to the committee’s broader investigation into Russia’s meddling.
But here’s what anyone trying to follow the twists and turns of this Trump-Russia-wiretapping story is left with: A top Republican congressman and Trump ally was at the White House the day before he released information that appeared to somewhat defend the president on his defenseless wiretapping claims.
What’s more, the congressman released this secret information to the president — whose circle is under investigation by the FBI for alleged ties to Russia — before sharing it with his own committee members.
From there, it’s not a stretch for a reasonable person to consider whether Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, wants to protect the president. And from there, it’s not a stretch to question the impartiality of the investigation Nunes is leading in the House on Russia meddling in the U.S. election. 
And that, say ethics and national security experts, is where the real damage in Nunes’s White House trip lies.
"This is really unusual behavior of an oversight committee chairman," said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow of governance studies at Brookings Institution and editor-in-chief of Lawfare. "And it's hard to understand what could possibly justify it."
T]he stakes could not be higher that impartial investigations into what Russia did actually stay impartial. Most intelligence officials agree that Russia will probably try to tinker with Western democratic elections again; maybe even that of the United States.
Congress, by its nature, was already at risk of appearing motivated by partisanship as it looked into these very critical questions. At the very least, Nunes just opened up the door for people to believe the worst about Congress: that its members put politics above all else.
[T]there are other investigative options besides Congress that could be perceived as more impartial. The FBI confirmed it is looking into alleged Trump connections to Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed to step aside from overseeing the investigation after news broke that he met with the Russian ambassador to the United States last year and didn't disclose it in his confirmation hearings before the Senate.
In addition to its Senate and House intelligence committees, Congress could set up a special congressional committee dedicated to investigating this, a la the Republican-majority Benghazi committee. Or it could set up a completely independent investigation outside of Congress, a la the 9/11 Commission. (The latter is what Schiff has called for.)
There’s no immediate sign that Republican leaders would be on board with any of those investigative alternatives. They’re already looking into something their president would rather they leave alone — Russia. . . . But Nunes is making it that much harder for Republicans to argue that.
The bottom line?  A independent special prosecutor needs to be appointed with broad investigatory powers. Amomg those investigated should be Nunes himself.  Either he's a bungling idiot or he is a partisan who desperate to protect  his party's president and keep the American public from learning of possible treason by Trump, Pence and others in Der Trumpenführer,'s regime.  Either way, Nunes is unfit to head the House investigation and arguably too stupid to hold a seat in the House of Representatives. 

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