Usually the “Incompetent Elected Official” category comes down to some variety of a conclusion that can be summed up by the sturdy phrase, “What an idiot.” This one is worse than that.
Representative Devin Nunes is chairman of the House committee investigating Russian interference in the Presidential election. This involves intelligence, investigations and secrets that are necessarily a matter of discretion until a final report can be released. No investigation can proceed in a trustworthy manner if every new shred of information becomes public, or worse, is revealed to parties who have a stake in the investigation. This has been understood by members of Congress since, oh, the first Congressional inquiry. The Constitution’s framers assumed that Congress would conduct investigations, just as as the British House of Commons did. James Wilson of Pennsylvania, Convention delegate, a future Supreme Court Justice and the Declaration of Independence signer that “1776” unjustly smears as a weenie , wrote in 1774 that House of Commons members were considered
“grand inquisitors of the realm. The proudest ministers of the proudest monarchs have trembled at their censures; and have appeared at the bar of the house, to give an account of their conduct, and ask pardon for their faults.”
During the First Congress in 1790, Robert Morris, who was the superintendent of finances during the Continental Congress and a financier of the American Revolution, asked Congress to investigate his handling of the country’s finances to clear his name of claimed improprieties. If Nunes doesn’t know the history of the legislative function he is involved in, he should.
Nunes had received intelligence that related to the President’s disputed claim that “he” (meaning who and what, it is unclear) had been wiretapped (meaning surveiled, presumably) by “Obama” (meaning someone who reports to Obama, I’m guessing), and chose to bypass his committee members, Democrats, protocol and common sense by relaying it directly to the White House. The new information, Nunes said, showed that American intelligence agencies monitoring foreign officials may have “incidentally” picked up communications from Trump transition team members, and thus the President’s much maligned accusation was kind-of, sort-of, bolstered.
Predictably, the President followed this good news with a tweet. Ugh.
Democrats now say Nunes’ leak, for that is what it was, raised questions about his ability to conduct an impartial bipartisan investigation.
The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Adam B. Schiff (also of California) said that his Republican colleague had to decide whether he was chairman of an independent investigation or “is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both.”
No, Nunes shouldn’t get to decide. Nunes should be removed from the Chairmanship immediately by Paul Ryan, or resi—never mind, I lost my head for a moment and was thinking about trustworthy officials. Nunes apologized today to committee members and described his decision as a judgment call. “At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one,” Rep. Nunes told reporters, “but you’ve got to stick by the decisions you make.”
Yes, and when the decisions you make stink and reveal you as a partisan, untrustworthy hack, sticking by them means that you pay the piper.
Nunes has to go.
Not out of the House, just out of the Intelligence Committee.
To a chair someplace in the back.
Facing the wall.
Congress can’t function like this; investigations can’t function like this; intelligence committees can’t function like this, and the government can’t function like this. The way the Democrats operate today, Nunes’ breach of ethics undoubtedly means that eventually a Democrat will leak some intelligence as tit-for-tat, and the government can’t function like that either. (Over in the Senate, Chuck Schumer says that the Democrats will filibuster Judge Gorsuch, whom everyone agrees is spectacularly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, because mean old Mitch McConnell was unfair to Merrick Garland, Obama’s equally qualified nominee. Neener-neener!
Or perhaps “Nuner-nuner!” is more appropriate.