How Did Devin Nunes Manage to Screw up with Ukraine? An ExplainerPhoto by Mark Wilson/Getty Politics News Devin Nunes
For the past two weeks, Republican California Representative Devin Nunes has been in impeachment limbo, processing the hearings concerning Donald Trump’s correspondence with Ukraine. Now Nunes may have an ethics committee investigation of his own reflecting on his dealings with Ukraine, as Intelligencer reports. How did Nunes fall from (at least by Republican standards) grace?
Back in 2018, per CNN, Nunes met with an ex-Ukrainian prosecutor in Vienna. Lev Parnas, a former aide of Rudy Giuliani’s, has since flipped and is willing to inform Congress of details of the meeting. “Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” Joseph Bondy, Parnas’s attorney, told CNN. Nunes was reportedly looking for the same thing as Trump was on that July 25 phone call: dirt on Joe Biden. Further back, in 2015, Biden helped push Shokin out of office because he abetted the Ukrainian oligarch class in efforts to operate outside the law. Shokin was the U.S. equivalent of attorney general for Ukraine, so it’s safe to assume he didn’t take his ousting by Biden kindly.
Parnas states that himself and Giuliani were on the same chase for bad behavior by Biden as Nunes. “Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and any purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election,” Bondy also stated. It’s apparent that Giuliani thus set up meetings and calls across Europe to aid in Nunes’s search. According to this tweet, the witch hunt wasn’t cheap:
Just want to point out that Devin Nunes spent nearly $57,000 of taxpayer money for the flight(s) he took with his 3 aides to allegedly dig for dirt on the Bidens. pic.twitter.com/eZksdFX0HL
— Avi Bueno (@Avi_Bueno) November 24, 2019
CNBC reported that Parnas states Nunes canceled such a trip to Ukraine to “interview two Ukrainian prosecutors who claim to have evidence that could help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign” when he realized he would have to inform Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Schiff, a Democratic Representative who also hails from California, has been a key player in the impeachment hearings, much like Nunes.
As of now, Nunes’ side Biden investigations are still being tagged with the word “alleged,” but he’s certainly not tempering suspicions. In an interview with CNN, reporter Vicky Ward questioned Nunes about the trip to Vienna, in response to which he snapped, “I don’t talk to you in this lifetime or the next lifetime. On any question.”
Nunes was more talkative but just as vague in an interview with Breitbart published on Friday:
These demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth. Some political operative offered these fake stories to at least five different media outlets before finding someone irresponsible enough to publish them. I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets, as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law. I intend to hold the Daily Beast and CNN accountable for their actions. They will find themselves in court soon after Thanksgiving.
Nunes is no stranger to throwing lawsuits around: He attempted to sue a Twitter account parodying his mother, another parody account posing (quite convincingly) as one of the former dairy farmer’s cows, and lastly, the owner of the Fresno Bee after they gave a sour review to a winery in which Nunes is an investor.
The most ironic part about Nunes’ threats are that he’s the one who will most likely be on the stand after Turkey Day. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith told MSNBC it’s “quite likely, without question,” that Nunes will be investigated on the premise of Parnas’ allegations. After last year’s embarrassment of a House Intelligence Committee memo and several blunders during the impeachment proceedings, the smart thing would be for Nunes to lay low. Even if he does now, it may be too little, too late, as his past seems to be catching up with him.