“The fact that the guy running the House Intel Committee’s Russia probe suggests it’s actually possible that Trump could be removed from office based upon Mueller’s Russia investigation seems significant.” ~ The Washington Post
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has been at the forefront of Republican efforts to thwart the Russia investigation.
Vanity Fair offered the following brief background on Nunes interference:
Of all the Republican members of Congress willing to espouse the views of Donald Trump, Devin Nunes is in perhaps the best position to do so. The House Intelligence Committee chairman has essentially leveraged his position into a potent political weapon against the F.B.I., the Department of Justice, and the U.S. intelligence community, brandishing a bogus memo as proof of intelligence abuses, feeding the hungry far-right conspiracy mill, and bolstering the president’s claim that Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign is a witch hunt. The California congressman has always had a cozy relationship with Trump—he was forced to recuse himself from the Russia probe after he was accused of sharing classified information with the White House (at the time, he denied he’d broken any ethics rules), but that hasn’t stopped him from declaring that his committee—unlike its Democratic counterparts—uncovered no evidence of collusion.
Wednesday night, things came full circle after MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow broadcast a secret recording of Nunes speaking at a closed-door fundraiser.
Rachel Maddow played four clips of Nunes speaking about the Russia investigation; and, although all four offer important insight into Nunes mindset and that of fellow Republicans in Congress, the first clip is the relevant one to this analysis.
That clip showed the following remarks by Nunes:
“So therein lies, so it’s like your classic Catch-22 situation where we were at a – this puts us in such a tough spot. If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is really the danger. That’s why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”
Much has been written about that quote, but most reports seem to miss an important point: Nunes is suggesting that it is possible that Trump can be successfully impeached and removed from office.
The Washington Post published an article on Thursday analyzing Nunes remarks, beginning with the following remarks:
We don’t know quite what Nunes was responding to, regrettably. But what first strikes you is how quickly he pivots from talking about Trump’s fate in the Russia investigation to the GOP’s electoral fortunes — as if the purpose of keeping Republicans in power is to shut the whole thing down.
That said, Nunes and others of his ilk have been arguing for months that the Justice Department, and even Mueller, are treating Trump unfairly and conducting a witch hunt. Nunes would perhaps argue that he’s talking about trying to protect Trump from an already overzealous prosecution and a Democratic Party that is intent upon impeaching him and removing him from office. Republicans may indeed need a House majority to guarantee that Trump isn’t impeached.
The Washington Post goes on to note that two items stand out from Nunes remarks:
- “First, he talks about Attorney General Jeff Sessions ‘un-recusing’ himself as if it were a way out of this whole mess.”
- “And the second is the last part: ‘If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.'”
Continuing, The Washington Post reminds readers that: “Nunes is the House Intelligence Committee chairman, and he’s privy to all kinds of things we don’t know about,” before concluding their analysis with the following stunning observation:
Removing Trump from office would require a majority vote to impeach in the House and a two-thirds vote to convict in the Senate (which means plenty of Republicans going along). Nunes is leading the crowd to believe that this would happen. Perhaps that’s just overheated partisan rhetoric — the kind of thing you say to fire up the base — but the fact that the guy running the House Intel Committee’s Russia probe suggests it’s actually possible that Trump could be removed from office based upon Mueller’s Russia investigation seems significant. [emphasis added]
The Washington Post followed up with another article a couple of hours later, stating that:
This is a straight-up declaration that the imperiled GOP congressional majority is the last line of protection for Trump, given that his attorney general is not defending the president from the Russia investigation, and given that the investigation could, in fact, pose a threat to him.
Continuing, The Washington Post reported that Nunes has made the perfect case for Democrats to merge concerns about the corrupt nature of the Trump administration with the Russia investigation:
It is sometimes argued that Democrats should make the midterms about Trump’s seamy culture of corruption, rather than about Russia. But the Nunes audio demonstrates that Democrats can point to those two things as part of the same story. Whether it’s Trump’s profiteering off the presidency and his refusal to release his tax returns, which might shed light on his self-dealing — or his efforts to derail scrutiny of the corruption of our democracy on his behalf, and of the real reasons he continues to absolve Russia of culpability for it — Trump is counting on a GOP Congress to shield him from accountability and to allow him to operate with impunity.
It has become obvious that the only way we are going to get serious oversight of Trump is if Democrats take control of the House. Nunes has now helpfully confirmed this as clearly as anyone could want.