A full evaluation of the information collected by the House impeachment inquiry shows that Rudy Giuliani’s role in Ukraine was far from a solo act. In addition to the more visible connections that Giuliani made in pulling the strings of U.S. ambassadors, his scheme involved a whole host of Republican heavyweights, including attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, the indicted Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and The Hill editor John Solomon. All of them were working together in a giant ratf#ucking conspiracy to smear both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden while exonerating Russia of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and giving Donald Trump a boost for 2020. But there was one more critical player in this conspiracy whose importance wasn’t really appreciated until all the evidence was in: Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.
Nunes’ role in all the House investigations of Donald Trump has been … unique. From the moment Trump arrived, Nunes has appeared desperate to prove his loyalty, even if that meant leaping from an Uber, disappearing into the night, or skulking around the White House bushes. Nunes was one of the first Republicans to go all-in for Trump, utterly humiliating himself as he turned the House Intelligence Committee into not just a rubber stamp, but an active defense for Trump’s Russia scandal. Nunes’ actions ultimately resulted in his stepping down from chairing hearings on the Russia investigation and having to make a trip to the Ethics Committee after he repeatedly mishandled classified information in a way that threatened U.S. intelligence assets.
When Nunes was pushed out of the lead chair, it took away his power to crank out Trump-friendly reports stamped with the Intelligence Committee seal, but it only seems to have deepened Nunes’ resolve to prove himself the most amphibian of toadies. As it turns out, well before the whistleblower made a peep, Nunes was neck-deep in Trump’s Ukraine scandal, on multiple fronts.
In the middle of the public impeachment hearings, it became clear that Nunes was sitting on the wrong side of the table. And, as CNN reports, further evidence has only made it more clear that Nunes may have been second only to Giuliani in terms of his involvement. Not only was Nunes deeply involved, but he was also deeply deceptive about his role. Even as testimony about Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and other figures in the scandal was coming from witnesses before the committee, Nunes continued his daily act of attacking the process, demeaning witnesses, and shouting about “Chalupa!” all the while failing to mention that both his office, and his person, had been integral parts of the scheme.
Nunes not only participated in the Ukraine scandal for months before the hearings took place; he also was absolutely dishonest about his actions in his dealings with fellow members of the Intelligence Committee. And analysis of the evidence shows that it’s even worse than it at first seems.
It’s now clear that, at a very minimum, both Nunes and two of his senior aides were directly involved in working with Giuliani, Parnas, and others to forward the Ukraine scandal well before it became the subject of hearings. Nunes and his aides took part in a series of “strategy meetings” with Giuliani and others in which they planned the actions Giuliani would take to force out U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, solicit lies concerning past investigations, and pressure Ukrainian officials to give Trump the announcements of investigations he wanted. Nunes mentioned none of this to his fellow representatives.
Phone records released as part of the inquiry report show that both Nunes and his staff were working closely with Giuliani, Parnas, and Solomon in coordinating the efforts to solicit foreign interference.
Despite multiple back-and-forth calls—including one lasting over 8 minutes just in the brief period covered by the records—Nunes claims he doesn’t know Parnas. Nunes also denies claims by Parnas that he met with Ukrainian officials in Vienna. Nunes is even denying that he made a trip to Vienna. However, as several sources have pointed out, if he was not in Vienna, then Nunes is guilty of another crime: falsifying expense reports to the House.
It’s clear that Devin Nunes has lied about his role in the Ukraine scandal. He’s still lying about it.
Federal prosecutors, who are still adding charges against Parnas and Fruman, may work their way through Giuliani and eventually find cause to indict Devin Nunes. But the House shouldn’t wait.
Nunes needs to climb down from his chair on the sidelines and take the one at center stage, where he and his aides need to answer questions about his actions in Ukraine. He can do it for the Intelligence Committee, or he can do it for the Ethics Committee, but he needs to do it soon.