‘Nunes Problem’ Now Squarely at the Feet of Speaker Ryan

The storyline gets more convoluted by the day. US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has a clandestine meeting on the White House grounds and is shown some documents that indicate that President Trump or and/or his cohorts were picked up in collection of surveillance data during the transition.

Nunes comes back to Capitol Hill but then rushes to the White House proper to brief the president on what he saw. He then holds a news conference on Capitol Hill explaining that he thought he a duty to inform the president. The New York Times reports the names of the two NSA staffers who briefed Nunes. Despite calls from Democrats and some Republicans, Nunes refuses to recuse himself to try to save any credibility his committee might have in investigating Trumpers – Russian ties.

House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes talks to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (r).

 

The whole thing raises so many questions, it’s hard to keep it all straight. But there is one thing we know for sure. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan could stop the madness by removing Nunes from the Intelligence Committee chairmanship. Only then can the committee move forward with an investigation—assuming it’s not completely compromised already.

Before the blockbuster Times report, Ryan said Nunes told him the source of his information was a “whistle blower-type person.” So when it came out that it was White House officials who gave it to Nunes, Ryan looks completely out of his own loop.

It’s true Ryan has had his mind on other things—mainly, the crushing defeat of the RyanCare/TrumpCare repeal and replace of Obamacare. He couldn’t even it to a vote because he lacked the support to pass it.

But Ryan’s job isn’t limited to minimizing the damage that Trump inflicts every day. He is charged with appointing (and removing) committee chairmen as he sees fit. Through that responsibility he is supposed to make sure the committees can function. And right now, there is no more dysfunctional group than the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes has become a joke, a laughingstock among his peers. First, he has no responsibility to brief the president on intelligence particularly intelligence Trump could have gotten from his own people at the NSA. Second, why has he still not briefed the rest of the committee on what he was shown (by the NSA)?

It wouldn’t be a complete story without Sean Spicer twisting himself into a pretzel.

Nunes has become the classic dupe. He is a Trump flunky who served on the transition team. Still on the hook for the ridiculous claim that President Obama has him under surveillance, Trump’s people needed some cover. Who better than the puppet chairman of the intel committee?

The White House “laundered” information through the completely clueless congressman from the California 22nd. White House officials bring Nunes in, show him something, what we’re not sure. Nunes then briefs the president on it. Then returns to Congress and rather than share even then with the top Democrat on the committee or anyone on the committee, he cancels public testimony on the whole mess.

We can blame Nunes. But that seems too easy. He is the dopey kid on the playground. He’s Mikey who likes it (“Hey, Mikey!). He is the classic deer in the headlights.

We expect more from the Speaker of the House. Ryan should remove Nunes immediately. That’s unless, of course, Ryan isn’t interested in a House Intelligence Committee that is capable of conducting a fair, thorough and impartial investigation into the whole Russian connection fiasco.

The good news is it looks likes the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee are adults and are acting as such. Chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-Virginia) have so far put politics aside in the country’s best interest (what a concept!). The committee also features Republicans Marco Rubio (Florida), Susan Collins (Maine), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and ex-officio member John McCain (Arizona). Democrats include Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) and Kamala Harris (California) and others.

Ryan’s inaction on Nunes looks bad. It looks like he simply can’t handle the defeat of the health care bill (which was doomed by the right-wing cadre of Republicans). If he is to have a political future, he better start paying attention.

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