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Friday, March 24, 2017

In Defense of Devin Nunes

One of the strangest turns in the story of Russia and the Trump campaign has been the recent outrage from Democrats over politicization of the investigation.

This all centers on Chairman Devin Nunes, the Republican who is leading the House Intelligence Committee's investigation. He was an adviser to the Trump presidential transition. The White House asked him last month to talk to a reporter to rebut news stories that alleged Trump associates had many contacts with Russian intelligence officers. On Wednesday, Nunes briefed the president about new information he had regarding dozens of widely disseminated intelligence reports on the Trump transition. He did this before he briefed his committee's Democrats.

All of this has prompted an outbreak of high dudgeon from the party of Clinton. Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, says Nunes must choose whether he wants to lead a credible investigation or be a surrogate of the Trump White House. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Nunes is a "stooge."

Nunes on Thursday gave a half apology for all of this to the minority members of his committee. He told me: "The bottom line is I know it hurt some people's feelings, but I had a judgment call to make and I did what I felt was right. The commitment remains to keep the committee bipartisan." He added, "I appreciate their concerns, but I had to do what I had to do." Translation: The chairman loves your passion, Democrats.

So why would Nunes brief President Donald Trump before Schiff? The answer is that the entire Russia-Trump investigation by Congress from the beginning has been a partisan fight. Leaks about who may be a target of the probe, press conferences on "what we know so far," pushback from the White House and other Republicans -- it's all evidence that the Trump-Russia probe is a political football.

So both parties have tried to spin the investigation for partisan advantage...

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