Devin Nunes’ Hometown Paper Ripped Him To Pieces

“What, pray tell, does Rep. Devin Nunes think he’s doing?”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) holds a news conference in the Capitol on March 22, 2017Bill Clark/ZUMA

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is starting to rack up a fine collection of op-eds branding him a witless fool and a Trump admin lapdog. The latest comes from a newspaper in the heart of his district, The Fresno Bee, the editorial board of which sounds as exasperated with the Congressman’s antics as it is peeved. “What, pray tell, does Rep. Devin Nunes think he’s doing by waving around a secret memo attacking the FBI, the nation’s premier law enforcement agency?” the op-ed starts. “He certainly isn’t representing his Central Valley constituents or Californians, who care much more about health care, jobs and, yes, protecting Dreamers than about the latest conspiracy theory.”

Since the piece ran last week, more news has dropped about the Congressman who is behind the controversial secret memo that allegedly details how the DOJ and FBI abused a secret surveillance program, commonly known as FISA, to target the Trump campaign and undermine his presidency. Early last April, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into whether Nunes broke rules governing the public disclosure of classified information, and dropped the investigation eight months later. Nunes celebrated by thanking the committee for “completely clearing” him, saying it found that he had “committed no violation.” But on Monday, the Atlantic reported that “the committee was never able to obtain or review the classified information at the heart of the inquiry”—calling into question not only the thoroughness of the committee’s investigation, but also Nunes’ claims of innocence.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the House intelligence committee voted on Monday to release the four-page classified memo to the public—while voting against giving the Justice Department and the FBI more time to vet the document for errors or national security concerns. They also voted against making a competing memo written by Democrats public.

“FISA warrants typically are big thick documents, 50-60 pages,” wrote John McLaughlin, a former deputy director for intelligence at the CIA, on Twitter. “If the Nunes memo about one is just 4 pages, you can bet it’s a carefully picked bowl of cherries. Made all the more dishonest by holding back the minority rebuttal memo. A real debate needs both. Someone fears that.”

At Just Security on Tuesday morning, Asha Rangappa wrote, “As a former FBI agent who has been through the process of obtaining these kinds of warrants under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), I know that such an allegation, if true, would require a vast number of people—across two branches of government—to be on board and willing to put their careers on the line for a conspiracy.”

The Fresno Bee‘s op-ed highlighted the many reasons to be skeptical of the document—the FBI hadn’t seen it, Democrats who had seen it say it’s replete with inaccuracies, and some of the social media calls to #ReleaseTheMemo may be the work of Russian-linked bots. And while the editors write that Nunes is relatively safe in his Republican district, his is the kind of “embarrassing” behavior that may come with a political price—and it’s election year.

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