The motivation for Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) persistent efforts to obstruct the Trump-Russia probe became clearer last week. Specifically, we learned that on Dec. 23, 2016, Nunes gave an interview to Newsweek. At best, it will certainly land him in an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. At worst, well…
When Nunes spoke with Newsweek, he was on the executive committee of Trump’s presidential transition team. Here’s what he said about his relationship with national security-designate Mike Flynn:
“This guy was one of the best intelligence officers in several generations…. Flynn is extremely smart. He really is top notch… I talk to Flynn virtually every day, if not multiple times a day. Seldom there’s a day that goes by that I don’t talk to Flynn, and especially right after the campaign, directly.” (emphasis supplied)
Now go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on Mike Flynn. Here’s what was happening with him around the time of Nunes’ interview:
Late November 2016: Flynn tells senior Trump advisers that he has scheduled a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Dec. 1, 2016: Flynn, Kislyak, and Jared Kushner meet privately, and Kushner reportedly suggests to Kislyak the possibility of establishing a secret back-channel through which the Trump administration could communicate directly with the Kremlin — and without the knowledge of US intelligence officials.
Mid-December 2016: Flynn, Kushner, and Steve Bannon meet with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who reportedly arranges a January meeting in the Seychelles islands between Trump supporter Erik Prince (Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos’s brother) and a Russian close to Putin.
Dec. 22, 2016: Flynn lobbies Kislyak directly (and, perhaps, illegally) about Russia’s upcoming UN vote on Israeli settlements. (Flynn later lies to federal investigators about it.)
DEC. 23, 2016: NUNES’ INTERVIEW WITH NEWSWEEK
Dec. 28-31, 2016: Flynn speaks with certain members of Trump’s transition team about his discussions with Kisylak. The topic is President Obama’s new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the US election. Kislyak tells Flynn that Putin will not retaliate for the sanctions, (Flynn later lies to federal investigators about his conversations with Kislyak.)
Jan. 4, 2017: Flynn tells the transition team’s chief legal counsel (and White House counsel-designate) Don McGahn that Flynn is under federal investigation for his lobbying activities on behalf of entities connected to the Turkish government.
To follow the action from this point, go to the Trump-Russia Timeline, click on Devin Nunes, and discover his publicly known efforts to obstruct and undermine the Trump-Russia investigation. His fears of where the truth could take him personally are well-grounded.
Members of Congress have immunity from criminal liability for acts that are an integral part of their legislative duties. But such “speech or debate” immunity provides no protection for whatever Nunes may have done while serving on Trump’s transition team. Nor could it protect him from charges that he obstructed justice in connection with the investigation of such wrongdoing.
Another important and under-reported story of the week was lost in Nunes’ nonsense over his distracting attack on the FBI. On Jan. 10, 2018, Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a report detailing how Putin operates as he seeks to undermine Western democracy.
Among the highlights of the 200-page report:
- Putin’s goal: Amass personal wealth and power
- Means and methods:
- Control internal government intelligence agencies
- Dismiss the truth as “FAKE NEWS”
- Spread disinformation
- Operate without meaningful legislative oversight
- Sow division among Western allies
- Exploit explosive issues to divide Americans
Sound familiar? The report notes that Trump has stood “practically idle” in dealing with Putin’s ongoing attacks on American democracy.
One more thing: With Rachel Brand’s resignation on Feb. 9, 2018, Trump’s path to undermining Mueller’s investigation got a lot easier.
Here’s a complete list of the latest Trump-Russia Timeline updates:
EARLY JULY 2016: Steele Contacts FBI About His Trump Findings (revision of previous entry)
NOV. 8, 2016: Election Day Troubles (revision of previous entry)
DEC. 23, 2016: Nunes Talks to Flynn Daily
JAN. 10, 2018: Senate Report: Putin’s Attacks on Democracy
FEB. 2, 2018: Nunes Moves Inquiry To State Dept.
FEB. 5, 2018: House Intelligence Committee Votes to Release Response to Nunes Memo
FEB. 5, 2018: Trump’s Lawyers Don’t Want Him to Testify
FEB. 6, 2018: Tillerson: Russia Already Meddling in 2018 Midterms
FEB. 8, 2018: Grassley Says Release of Don Jr. and Other Transcripts Will Take Weeks
FEB. 8, 2018: Trump Tweets
FEB. 9, 2018: Democrats Rebut Grassley/Graham Criminal Referral on Steele
FEB. 9, 2018: Rachel Brand Resigns
FEB. 9, 2018: Trump Objects to Releasing Democrats’ Rebuttal to Nunes’ Memo
FEB. 10, 2018: Trump Tweets