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Devin Nunes Trump Minion Page 3

Devin Nunes has and continues to violate his oath of office to protect Donald J. Trump.  

Devin Nunes’ impeachment defense closely mirrors Trump’s. Are they coordinating?
By Kate Irby and Francesca Chambers

WASHINGTON

Rep. Devin Nunes hammered two of President Donald Trump’s favorite targets at Tuesday morning’s impeachment hearing: the media and the unidentified whistleblower who thrust the president’s July phone call with the Ukranian president into the national spotlight. Nunes, R-Tulare, used almost the entirety of his opening statement for the testimonies of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs for the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence overseeing Ukraine issues, to sharply criticize the media.

Nunes said most media outlets are the “puppets” of Democrats, and Democrats are media’s “masters.” “Americans have learned to recognize fake news when they see it, and if the mainstream press won’t give it to them straight, they’ll go elsewhere to find it,” Nunes concluded his remarks. “Which is exactly what the American people are doing.” Nunes also used his allotted time for questioning to try to find out the identity of the whistleblower, earning a rebuke from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and praise from his colleagues.

Nunes’ focus during the hearings has closely matched Trump’s own defense of his actions, and some details within the impeachment hearings suggest Nunes could be coordinating with the White House. The president, like Nunes, has disparaged the news media and demanded the public disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity.

The White House declined to comment on the relationship between Nunes and Trump and whether the two had launched a coordinated attack. Nunes’ performance grabbed the attention of Trump, who shared highlights of Nunes from the Tuesday hearing on Twitter. “I just got to watch — and the Republicans are absolutely killing it. They are doing so well. Because it’s a scam. It’s a big scam,” the president said at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The president’s comments mirrored Nunes.’ He claimed the press is “sick” and “dangerous” on Tuesday morning. Full Story

‘What were you thinking when you sent Devin Nunes to Congress?’ Out-of-towners want to know
By Marek Warszawski

By now, your opinion on Rep. Devin Nunes is probably well-formed and just as intractable. Admire him or loathe him, the Tulare Republican is more polarizing than Brussels sprouts. But for millions of Americans from outside our region, this week’s House impeachment hearings on President Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine offered their first prolonged exposure to Nunes’ peculiar brand of politics. Several of them reacted to what they saw and heard by emailing letters to The Fresno Bee. So many, I thought I’d share. (You’ll undoubtedly notice the absence of pro-Nunes sentiment, which was not intentional on my part. Angry people tend to send letters, not those who are pleased.)

Without further adieu:

“After watching all of the impeachment hearings I am amazed that the good people of California ever felt that Devin Nunes is someone they wanted representing them in Congress,” writes Cynthia Lover of North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“His statements and oratory are disingenuous and hypocritical. Clearly he has no moral backbone and I hope that for the good of the country, after watching his performance, his constituents will vote for whomever runs against him in his next election. I attempted to email him directly, but as I do not live in his zip code, he is not interested in my opinion.”

Don’t feel bad, Cynthia. Nunes isn’t interested in hearing from his constituents, either. Unless, of course, your views are in lockstep with his — and you can afford $2,700-a-plate fundraisers.

“It is apparent Mr. Nunes has become a perfect example of someone who puts his political party’s positions over his country. More shameful, Mr. Nunes’ allegiance seems to lie with a leader who is either so inept, corrupt or both, instead of upholding our country’s Constitution and laws,” writes Bill Adelman of Galt.

“While I do not belong to the Democratic party, I will support any other candidate who runs against him in next year’s election. Mr. Nunes needs to be removed from office as soon as possible.

Perhaps he can better serve the American people if he returns to his ‘farm.’”

What farm would that be? The one in Tulare that doesn’t grow anything of value, or his family’s dairy operation in Iowa?

“Rep. Nunez (sic) continues to make a mockery of the impeachment hearings, a process of inquiry mandated by the U.S. Constitution whenever a president of the U.S.A. is alleged to have violated the Constitution,” writes Larry Naritomi of Monterey Park.

“Perhaps, Nunez (sic) and cohorts need a primer on the specifics of the alleged violation committed by President Trump.” Full Story

Nunes’s ‘carousel of allegations’ all contain impeachable acts
By Randall D. Eliason

A common Republican criticism in the ongoing impeachment proceedings is that Democrats have repeatedly changed their position concerning what offense President Trump may have committed in his dealings with Ukraine. In his opening statement on Thursday, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Republican, said: “The offense itself changes depending on the day, ranging from quid pro quo, to extortion, to bribery, to obstruction of justice, then back to quid pro quo.” He accused Democrats of riding on a “carousel of allegations.”

But there is no carousel. As a legal description of the president’s conduct, all of these charges are accurate, and all at the same time. In federal law, the crimes of bribery and extortion by a public official are very closely related. A public official commits bribery when he seeks or demands anything of value in exchange for being influenced in the performance of some official act. In this case, the bribery charge would be that Trump, a public official, demanded a thing of value from Ukraine in the form of a public announcement of investigations that would benefit him politically. In exchange, the president would agree to be influenced in the official acts of releasing aid to Ukraine and holding a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Extortion is generally defined as forcing another person to surrender property under some kind of threat or duress. Extortion by a public official is most often charged under a statute called the Hobbs Act, which prohibits extortion by force, violence, fear or “under color of official right.” This could apply to Trump’s conduct in two ways. One would be the charge that Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to announce the investigations by putting them in fear of what would happen to their country if they did not receive the hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally approved aid.

An alternative theory would be that Trump’s conduct constituted extortion “under color of official right.” The Supreme Court has held that this is basically equivalent to taking a bribe. As a result, often conduct that looks a lot like traditional bribery is prosecuted as extortion under color of official right, and that theory could apply here as well.

Quid pro quo, another item in Nunes’s litany, is not a separate crime. Allegations of a wrongful quid pro quo are really just another way of saying that there was a bribe. The term, usually translated as “this for that,” refers to the exchange that is at the heart of a bribery offense. Of course, quid pro quos in and of themselves are not illegal; bargaining takes place in diplomacy and elsewhere, and the United States is free to attach conditions to its foreign aid. But it’s bribery if a quid pro quo is sought with corrupt intent, if the president is not pursuing legitimate U.S. policy but instead is wrongfully demanding actions by Ukraine that would benefit him personally.

As for obstruction of justice, that’s in a separate category. The White House has been refusing to honor congressional subpoenas and ordering key witnesses not to testify. It’s been ironic to watch Republicans complain about supposed hearsay and witnesses who do not have direct knowledge of key events when it is the administration itself that is withholding much of that key information. Democrats will have to consider whether this stonewalling of their investigation justifies a separate article of impeachment for obstruction, as it did for President Richard M. Nixon. Full Story

Lev Parnas Helped Rep. Devin Nunes’ Investigations
The indicted Giuliani associate helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for the Republican congressman in 2018.
By Betsy Swan

Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Rep. Devin Nunes in 2018, Parnas’  lawyer Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast. Nunes aide Derek Harvey participated in the meetings, the lawyer said, which were arranged to help Nunes’ investigative work. MacMahon didn’t specify what those investigations entailed.  Nunes is the top Republican on the House committee handling the impeachment hearings—hearings where Parnas’ name has repeatedly come up.

Congressional records show Nunes traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018. Three of his aides—Harvey, Scott Glabe, and George Pappas—traveled with him, per the records. U.S. government funds paid for the group’s four-day trip, which cost just over $63,000.  The travel came as Nunes, in his role on the House Intelligence Committee, was working to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election-meddling.

Parnas’ assistance to Nunes’ team has not been previously reported. A spokesperson for Nunes did not respond to requests for comment. Nunes has been helming the GOP’s involvement in the impeachment inquiry. He has spent much of his time criticizing the probe and the media’s coverage of it. “In their mania to attack the President, no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats,” he said on Wednesday morning before Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony. Later in the day, Nunes accused Democrats of harboring “Watergate fantasies.” “I guess they fantasize about this at night,” he said.

Giuliani has been a subject of much discussion at the impeachment hearings. To a lesser extent, so have Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, who worked with Giuliani as he attempted to find damaging information on Joe and Hunter Biden from Ukrainian sources. Nunes has been at the center of the broader story about foreign influence in President Donald Trump’s Washington. When congressional investigators began probing Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, Nunes made a late-night visit to the White House and announced the next day he’d found evidence of egregious wrongdoing by Intelligence Community officials. The move appeared to be an effort to corroborate a presidential tweet claiming that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

Nunes then stepped back from the committee’s work scrutinizing Russian efforts. Instead, he ran a parallel probe looking at the origins of Mueller’s Russia probe. The undertaking made him a hero to the president and Sean Hannity, and a bête noire of Democrats and Intelligence Community officials. That work was still underway when he traveled to Europe in 2018. Last month, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Parnas and Fruman with illegally moving money from foreign donors to American political campaigns. Both men maintain their innocence. Full Story

Fiona Hill tells Devin Nunes to his face that his Ukraine conspiracy theory is ‘harmful’
It’s already been publicly embraced by Vladimir Putin.
By Philip Bump

One reason that Russia’s interference effort in 2016 was successful was that it leveraged a powerful source of energy: partisanship. The information released by WikiLeaks, which even at the time was linked to Russian hacking, provided fodder for endless conservative-media coverage and conspiracy theories targeting Democrats generally and Hillary Clinton specifically. Russia’s social media content, like the TEN_GOP Twitter account, threw out meme-ish content that occasionally struck enough of the right political note to go viral. Americans, particularly Americans who supported Donald Trump or disliked Clinton in 2016, were less concerned with where the river originated than what happened on the flood plains.

This worked both ways. Russia injected content into a partisan space, where it gained energy. It also plucked partisan ideas out of the conversation which then helped its efforts be more effective. There was something of a symbiosis, however witting, that served both Russia and President Trump’s campaign. Trump’s late-election declaration that he loved WikiLeaks wasn’t disconnected from the information that WikiLeaks was dumping into the political conversation.

In the opening statement she will offer at her public testimony on Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former member of Trump’s National Security Council, will draw attention to Russia’s efforts three years ago — and now. “The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today,” Hill’s statement reads. “Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career Foreign Service is being undermined.” But Hill's statement goes further than that. “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016,” the statement says. “These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.” Full Story

What, exactly, is Devin Nunes doing?
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland spent most of Wednesday morning dismantling every argument that the Trump White House and congressional Republicans had offered to explain away the pressure campaign that the US conducted in Ukraine. Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was sitting right there as Sondland detailed clear evidence of a quid pro quo -- the Ukrainians would get a sit-down between their President and President Donald Trump only if they announced an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's connections to a Ukrainian natural gas company -- and made clear that all sorts of senior officials within the administration were aware of this in real time.

So how did Nunes start off his allotted 45-minute questioning of Sondland? By floating a series of debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine meddling in the election, of course! "We have records showing Democrats were heavily involved with Ukraine in 2016," Nunes said before detailing a series of claims that have been debunked not only by nonpartisan fact checkers but by the likes of former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

On top of all that, there's all this: The intelligence community has unanimously concluded that it was Russia that sought to interfere in the 2016 election, with the goal of helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton. Special counsel Robert Mueller's nearly two-year investigation drew the same conclusion.

So ...
Here's the thing: This isn't the exception for Nunes' performance during these public impeachment hearings. It's the rule.
On the first day of public hearings last week, Nunes used his opening statement to:
* Call the hearings a "pitiful finale" to Democratic attempts to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
* Describe the closed-door testimony offered by Ukraine witnesses a "cult-like atmosphere."
* Suggest that the whistleblower "was known to have a bias against President Trump."
* Deride the "impeachment sham."
* Refer to the impeachment hearings as a "Star Chamber."
* Dismiss the investigation as a "low-rent Ukrainian sequel" to the Mueller investigation.

“Nunes read the wrong opening statement”: GOP strategy flops as Sondland throws Trump under the bus
“Nunes' opening statement suggests GOP didn't know Sondland was flipping until the last minute," one reporter notes
By Igor Derysh

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., appeared unprepared for President Donald Trump’s handpicked European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland to throw the president under the bus and admit a quid pro quo on Ukraine in his opening statement.

Sondland, who already revised his closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee to acknowledge a quid pro quo, reiterated that there was one at Wednesday’s public hearing in the impeachment inquiry. Sondland claimed in his opening statement that he directly communicated the quid pro quo to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and kept acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in the loop on his efforts to get Zelensky to commit to an “investigation” into the Bidens. Sondland also acknowledged that military aid was withheld at Trump’s direction to pressure Ukraine into launching the probe.

“We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements,” he said. “Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma.” Nunes’ opening statement, delivered just moments earlier, appeared unprepared for Sondland’s revelations.

Nunes began by comparing the Democrats’ impeachment push to former special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, listing off numerous charges that although he dismissed at false were actually proven true. “Trump had a diabolical plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow,” he said. (True.) “Trump changed the Republican National Committee platform to hurt Ukraine and benefit Russia,” he added. (True.) “Trump's son-in-law lied about his Russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance,” he continued. (True.)

“It's a long list of false charges, and that's merely a partial list,” Nunes declared after reading the largely corroborated list. Nunes then went on to claim that Democrats were again pushing false charges in the Ukraine case. “When the Democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of a quid pro quo, they move the goalposts and accuse the president of extortion, then bribery, and as a last resort, obstructing justice,” Nunes said, moments before Sondland explicitly described a “quid pro quo.” Full Story

Nunes keeps referring to the impeachment hearing as a “drug deal.” It’s not as clever as he thinks.
He thinks he’s owning the libs. He’s really owning himself.
By Aaron Rupar

On two separate occasions during Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) derisively referred to the impeachment inquiry as a “drug deal” — a turn of phrase meant to depict Democrats as being up to something illicit.

For the second time today, Devin Nunes obliviously refers to the impeachment inquiry as a "drug deal" -- the exact turn of phrase John Bolton used to describe Sondland and Mulvaney working to leverage Ukraine into doing political favors for Trump pic.twitter.com/PJeaRu5RHX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 19, 2019

The comment is part of Republicans’ broader push to portray the entire impeachment inquiry as a partisan witch hunt. But while Nunes may think that by saying this he’s owning the libs, he’s actually owning himself.

“Drug deal,” if you recall, was the memorable turn of phrase then-National Security Adviser John Bolton originally used to describe the efforts of US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and Rudy Giuliani to leverage the Ukrainian government into doing political favors for Trump.

My colleague Alex Ward detailed the backdrop of Bolton’s “drug dealer” remark late last month, when news broke that Bolton was in talks to testify before impeachment investigators. And suffice it to say the context doesn’t reflect positively on Trump’s Ukraine policy:

In her testimony last week, former National Security Council Director for European Affairs Fiona Hill recounted a July 10 meeting with senior Ukrainian officials that she, Bolton, and US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland attended. Per her statements, Sondland brought up the investigation, leaving those in the room with no doubt that he wanted the Ukrainians to look into the Bidens.

Bolton afterward told Hill to speak with top NSC lawyer John Eisenberg about his own discomfort with what Sondland said and the Ukraine plan he, Giuliani, and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were executing.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill, according to the New York Times reported last week. Apparently, Bolton was already upset at Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, for leading his own policy to Ukraine outside official channels. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Hill recalled Bolton saying in a previous conversation. Full Story

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