In the Washington Post, Amber Phillips has an excellent summary of recent events, published under the blunt headline: "Devin Nunes is making it very hard for Republicans to claim they can run an impartial investigation on Russia."
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.Nunes has created enough turmoil by his lack of impartiality that now [video may autoplay at link] the House Intelligence Committee have scrapped its meetings this week. Nunes has effectively damaged the integrity of the investigation, following devastating testimony from FBI James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers.
...We still don't know who gave Nunes the surveillance information or its significance to the committee's broader investigation into Russia's meddling. Nunes publicly said if the president's name did show up in surveillance, it had nothing to do with Russia. He also told CNN that the president didn't even know Nunes was at the White House Tuesday.
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.
Trump himself is, as per usual, using Twitter to spin wildly, which isn't helping Nunes. At least not with serious people who are treating this investigation with the gravity it deserves.
Democrats are, quite reasonably and necessarily, calling for Nunes to recuse himself, with Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member on the committee, plainly stating: "The public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president's campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman."
The Democrats, of course, prepared for this eventuality. Rep. Eric Swalwell on Morning Joe this morning:
SWALWELL: Right, it's time for Devin Nunes to leave this investigation, let alone lead it. So he should be gone. And what we saw was, going over to the White House, he went to receive information that you know, Joe, we can receive at the Capitol. We have our own secure facility. If this was done the proper way, they could have brought it over, shared it with both members, both parties of the committee, but this was done because the White House wanted it to be done, and this is what a cover-up to a crime looks like. We are watching it play out right now.We have always needed and independent commission, and we do now more than ever.
MIKE BARNICLE: Hey, Congressman, has this investigation been so badly damaged that even if Devin Nunes recuses himself, and is off the committee, is the investigation over in the House side?
SWALWELL: It's been compromised. That's why Elijah Cummings and I have written legislation to have an independent commission. We always thought that was the most comprehensive way to get to the bottom of what happened. But now it's an insurance policy against an investigation that our chairman has really badly compromised.
And if, as Trump and his surrogates keep insisting, there is nothing to the allegations of collusion with Russia, then why are they so afraid of such a commission? They should welcome it, and the accompanying exoneration, if there is truly nothing to find.
At this point, the attempts from the House committee chair and the administration to undermine the investigation only serve to reinforce the idea that there is something they are desperately trying to conceal.
We need to know what that is.