With the chance that Democrats may take the House looming ever larger, Republicans are deeply concerned that they may … politicize the House Intelligence Committee. That’s right. The committee headed up by Devin Nunes and known for its independence in refusing to call a single witness put forward by Democrats, quashing every single subpoena put forward by Democrats, composing and issuing a committee report without ever allowing a Democratic member to see it … might become “overtly partisan.” The House Intelligence Committee has demonstrated it’s nonpartisanship in the last two years by closing down the investigation into Russia after making a less-than-token gesture, constantly throwing up new assaults on the DOJ and FBI, and opening multiple new investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails, the Uranium One deal, and FBI actions before the 2016 election. But according to Politico, Republicans are suddenly seeing a need to put this committee to bed.
“It has to revert back to the way that it was, sort of like the sleepy little classified committee that nobody ever hears about,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who joined the House Intelligence Committee in 2011 and is retiring from Congress in January.
Yes. With Democrats poised to take control, and perhaps, just maybe, launch a few investigations of their own, Republicans have developed a sudden real concern about how the nation “suffers” from a too-highly politicized Intelligence Committee. Prospective members for the next iteration of the committee are piling up—with as many as 70 names on the Republican side alone. That’s one out of three Republican congressmen itchin’ to get on the Intelligence Committee.
It’s no secret why Republicans want to climb on board. If they hold the House, they get to be the ones poking forks at Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and anyone else they can think of, plausible or implausible, to haul in for a good “are you now or have you ever been” session. If Democrats do take the House, Republicans on the committee will be first up on the chest-beating wall of Trump defenders. That may not seem like an enviable post, but it’s proven to be extraordinarily lucrative for Nunes and others who have used their ability to kick off conspiracy theories on demand to fill their campaign coffers.
Nunes has raised more than $10 million for his campaign directly this session, and that’s not including heavy spending from organizations supporting his candidacy. Even though his pivot to full-time Trump representative has cost him some local support, including that of the newspaper that has long endorsed him, Nunes still enjoys a lead in the polls thanks to monster levels of spending.
Most of those Republicans now scrambling to be the turtle on top of the Intelligence Committee pile are making the same calculation—the House Intelligence committee is going to be where the action is in defending Trump as a real investigation into his foreign relationships gets underway. It’ll be the center ring of the circus for Republicans attempting to melt down the U.S. intelligence agencies, trip the FBI, and sniffle over the unfair treatment of Trump. They’re all betting that Trump supporters will lavish them with so much sweet campaign cash, that it will more than make up for the fact that they’re not actually doing a damn thing for their constituents.
But Republicans are likely to find out that being not the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and not being able to block any real investigation and selectively release only the most Trump-friendly testimony is going to be a lot less fun. Nunes gets the dough because he’s the ringmaster. Divided up among a bunch of B-team performers, the gig is likely to be both frustrating and considerably less lucrative.
There’s only one statement in the Politico article that’s worrisome.
As Democrats appear increasingly likely to win control of the House, they’re preemptively warning elements within their own party to avoid the same excesses they’ve accused Republicans of committing.
That has to be making a lot of people feel good—starting with Donald Trump and ending with Devin Nunes.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.