Tag Archives: Devin Nunes

Bring In The Clowns. Don’t Bother, They’re Here.

There’s a cartoon making the rounds on social media that shows Lt. Col. Vindman–in his military uniform– testifying during the impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Devin Nunes, in full clown regalia, is asking him “What’s with the uniform?”

I loved it.

As Impeachment proceedings move to the Judiciary Committee, I thought I’d do a quick review of some of the more vocal–okay, looney-tunes–Trump defenders on the Intelligence Committee.

Nunes is a hysterical ( in both senses of the word) Trump devotee; during the Mueller investigation, reporters caught him running information to and from the White House in an effort to exculpate the President by disparaging American spy agencies, and engaging in a variety of other behaviors that were not, to put it mildly, in furtherance of the rule of law.

Indeed, despite once sponsoring something called the “Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act,” Nunes may be the poster child for legal frivolity.

According to a column in the LA Times, 

He has sued:

¤ A stone fruit farmer in Dinuba, and two other people, for conspiring to damage his 2018 reelection by asking that Nunes not be allowed to call himself a “farmer” on the ballot.

¤ The research firm Fusion GPS and a Democratic group called Campaign for Accountability for attempting to interfere with his “investigation” (quote marks are mine) into ties between President Trump and Russia when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

¤ Twitter and a couple of parody accounts, including @DevinCow, who has called Nunes “a treasonous cowpoke.” He is asking for $250 million to assuage his hurt feelings.

¤ McClatchy, parent company of Nunes’ hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, for writing that he had a financial interest in a winery sued by an employee who was asked to work on a charity cruise where men behaved very, very badly.

¤ And, most recently, Esquire magazine and the journalist Ryan Lizza, who Nunes claims have defamed him to the tune of $75 million in writing about the Nunes family dairy farm, which is not in California, but in Iowa, a fact Lizza alleged Nunes has sought to downplay. Lizza also wrote about how undocumented workers form the backbone of the Iowa dairy farm industry, and how the industry would collapse without them.

(The New York Times says the cow now has 600,000 followers, far more than Nunes…)

Each of Nunes lawsuits describe him in the following glowing (arguably wildly inaccurate) terms:

“Nunes’ career as a U.S. Congressman is distinguished by his honor, dedication and service to his constituents and his country, his honesty, integrity, ethics, reputation for truthfulness and veracity.”

Then there’s language from his suit against the more popular cow. I think it’s fair to characterize it as somewhat over-the-top:

“In 2018, during his last re-election,” says his lawsuit against Twitter and the cow, “Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear or suffer in their whole life.”

As the author of the column put it,

It’s almost as if Nunes thinks he is the victim of a vast bovine conspiracy, when what he is really doing is weaponizing the American legal system in an effort to shut down criticism, punish his antagonists and prove to Trump World that, like the president, he will stop at nothing to destroy those who would dare to oppose him. Or call him names like “Milk Dud.”

In all fairness, Nunes isn’t the only Republican clown on the Intelligence Committee. Jim Jordan is only slightly less ridiculous; his high-decibel expressions of righteous indignation over suggestions that the Emperor/Commander-in-Chief might not be wearing any clothes was in striking contrast to his utter lack of such indignation–or appropriate action– over the sexual exploitation of numerous wrestlers by the team doctor while Jordan was assistant coach at Ohio State.

Gotta give Jordan props: when he’s on your team–be it wrestling or governing– he’ll cover for you. After all, what are friends for?

There are others, of course, who haven’t exactly been models of legislative comportment–let alone integrity. Feel free to identify your personal favorites in the comments.

Despite the number of contestants, it’s my view that Devin Nunes has gone above and beyond (far, far beyond) and is richly deserving of the title of Head Clown. Despite what has definitely been a valiant effort, Jim Jordan falls short.

That said, as the proceedings move to Judiciary, Nunes may have to increase his quotient of batshit crazy in order to keep the Clown crown. Louie Gohmert is on the Judiciary Committee…



Please Don’t Throw Me In the Briar Patch!

We don’t hear the old “Uncle Remus” stories any more, and for obvious reasons, but it’s a shame they can’t be shorn of the stereotypical racism of the Uncle Remus character and retold, because most of them reflected a pretty sophisticated understanding of human psychology.

The younger folks who read this blog probably never heard the one about B’rer Rabbit and the briar patch. The bottom line: B’rer Rabbit was being chased by (I think) a fox, and knew he couldn’t outrun the predator. He also knew the fox couldn’t negotiate the nearby briar patch, so he pled with the fox, “please don’t throw me in the briar patch! Oh, please, not that.” The fox, being stupid, immediately threw him in the briar patch, allowing him to make his escape.

I suspect that today, that fox would be named Devin Nunes.

Put aside, for purposes of this discussion, the very real harm done to the FBI and Department of Justice by the GOP (party of “law and order”) with this effort to discredit the Muller investigation.

For weeks–seems like months–we’ve been treated to an elaborate kabuki dance about “the memo.” There was a hashtag, “release the memo” which–as I noted yesterday– went viral with the help of bots. There were the responses from the Democrats, the FBI and DOJ–“Oh, please don’t release the memo/throw us in the briar patch!”

Then the memo was released. And to use a currently popular term, it’s an obvious nothing-burger.

The most succinct response came from Trevor Noah, on the Daily Show. “Four pages to discredit the whole FBI? I’ve had CVS receipts with more detail than this memo.”

A longer, but no less devastating putdown came from the always-excellent Charles Pierce:

I grew up with the Watergate tapes. I grew up with the revelations of the Pike and the Church committees. (Revelations, I might add, that produced the FISA process and the congressional intelligence procedures that Nunes turned into dog food Friday.) I grew up with George Schultz’s diaries that showed that everyone in the upper reaches of the Reagan administration was involved in the crimes of Iran-Contra. I watched every second of the several inquiries into the Whitewater land deal, which is how I know what a crock that was, but at least there was some phony substance to those phony charges. This Memo, Devin, isn’t even a good try. You and your staff have to be the laziest alleged obstructors of justice that I’ve ever seen. All it appears to be is a lame-ass defense of a self-important goofball Russophile named Carter Page. That’s all you got?

Pierce examines the “argument” the memo appears to be making, and (to put it mildly) finds it wanting.

For this, you needed a memo? For this, you needed a month’s worth of drama? For this, you needed to demolish the good faith between the intelligence community and the congressional committees designed to conduct oversight of that community? You couldn’t even get the date of David Corn’s breakthrough story in Mother Jones right. Hell, you could have saved us all the trouble and just done a couple of nights on Hannity to make that caseYou’d have reached every single American that currently buys what you’re peddling.

As long as the memo remained secret, Nunes and his cohorts could have continued the pretense–they could have piqued the public imagination by suggesting that they had secret evidence of malfeasance. Once that “evidence” was out, however, once it had been made available in all its glorious inanity, they lost any benefit of the doubt that people might have accorded them.

Uncle Remus’ wily rabbit knew the fox was dumb. The FBI’s concerns, in contrast, were  sincere and well-founded–if the agency can’t protect the identity of informers, fewer people will inform. Not only that, but classified information might be required in order to rebut misleading information in the memo–information the agency couldn’t and wouldn’t disclose. (Who knew the memo would be so weak and sloppy that it would rebut itself?)

Uncle Remus and B’rer Rabbit could have taught Devin Nunes a thing or two…..