Emily Kowalik ’18
Democrats have demanded that Californian Representative David Nunes, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, recuse himself from the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Many have pointed to the growing evidence that Nunes was too closely tied to President Trump to be impartial.
The evidence includes recent meetings Nunes had on White House grounds with a source who showed him secret American intelligence reports. According to a statement Nunes made a couple of weeks ago, the reports show that Trump and some of his close associates may have been “incidentally” connected with certain American spy agencies’ foreign surveillance.
Though Nunes has shrugged off questions about his fitness to guide this effort, there are many reasons why Nunes is not qualified to lead this investigation. First of all, the Intelligence Committee is intended to be unbiased, not to serve the interests of the majority party. Nunes’ involvement with the White House violates this group’s oversight role.
Nunes has demonstrated time and again his loyalty to Trump, often swooping in to distract from allegations of Trump’s wrongdoings or highlight his claims that he has been mistreated. Many believe that Nunes is much more interested in pleasing Trump than in discovering the truth.
For example, when Trump was being reproached for his wild accusations about wiretapping in Trump Tower, Nunes stepped in to say, “I don’t think we should attack the president for tweeting,” as though Twitter, as opposed to the president’s groundless accusations, was the focus of the situation.
Also, it was recently revealed that during Nunes’ rendezvous, he received information which he failed to share with his fellow committee members before going public with it.
All in all, Nunes has acted very clumsily. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, even went so far as to say that he has blundered his way through the investigation like “Inspector Clouseau,” a reference to the horribly inept protagonist of the “Pink Panther” series.
Californian representatives Adam B. Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, have questioned the justness of allowing Nunes to lead this inquiry. They are both correct in their assessment — Nunes is too partial to conduct a fair, independent and in-depth inquiry. And Democrats aren’t the only ones calling on Nunes to recuse himself. Senator Graham and Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, also agree that recusal is necessary.
Without steps taken to ensure an independent and fair inquiry, the public will lose all confidence in the accuracy of the results of these proceedings. As McCain said on CBS This Morning, “something’s got to change, otherwise the whole effort in the House of Representatives will lose credibility.”
In light of Nunes’ allegiance to Trump and his irresponsible behavior, there exists the definite danger that Nunes will either not direct a thorough investigation or that he has already made up his mind in Trump’s favor.