Devin Nunes appears to have about the same aptitude for reading that Donald Trump does: None. He has routinely demanded documents from the Department of Justice be handed over to him that, given the chance to review instead of actually take into his possession, he has declined to read.
Unfortunately, the fact that Nunes chairs the House Intelligence Committee is more than just a perverse joke by the universe, since he’s wielding his ignorance like a battering ram against the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference. On Sunday, Nunes threatened anew to hold a Justice Department official “in contempt” of Congress for not producing more documents he has no interest in actually reading. This time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself in the crosshairs alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has previously earned Nunes’ uninformed ire.
“The only thing left to do is we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt and that is what I will press for this week,” Nunes told Fox News.
The Justice Department informed Nunes three days ago — on the deadline for responding to a subpoena from Nunes’ committee — that providing the information on a “specific individual” could pose grave implications for national security, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
“Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs.
Nunes doesn’t care about the collateral damage of lives lost and international diplomacy—but damaging “ongoing criminal investigations” certainly is a priority for him. In fact, the New York Times reported last week that top Justice Department and FBI officials now “suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence” about the Russia probe that could be handed over to the White House. So give it up, DOJ, or suffer the consequences of a maniacal Republican congressman bent on destroying your investigation into Trump.
The Justice Department and the California Republican have been down this road before. CNN reported Friday that Nunes threatened to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress on several occasions for failing to turn over sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation only to not read the materials once they were made available to him.
When asked about CNN’s reporting by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Friday evening, Nunes said he wouldn’t play “process games” or discuss “specifics about how we conduct our investigation,” emphasizing that Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has read them instead, which CNN has reported.
Right: the guy who has read the document has distanced himself of many of the GOP House panel’s crackpot conclusions, like the idea that Russia wasn’t trying to damage Hillary Clinton in 2016, or that a memo released by the GOP members impugned the Mueller investigation in any way.
Gowdy has also said that he believes executive branch investigations like Mueller’s are “better” than Congressional ones. “Congress is not well-equipped to investigate crime,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation on April 29.
Nevertheless, Nunes persists.