House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) wrote to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), on Sunday, suggesting that after a series of lies, “it is clear you are in need of rehabilitation.”
Nunes took Schiff on over his defense last February of the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) and its efforts to mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in applications for surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. After then-Chairman Nunes released a four-page memo detailing his concerns about FBI abuses, then-Ranking Member Schiff released a response that defended the FBI’s conduct.
Last Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz released his investigative report into the matter. Almost everything Nunes said was correct, and almost everything Schiff said was wrong.
Moreover, Schiff had maintained for months that there was “more than circumstantial” evidence of “collusion” between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government, which attempted to interfere in the election.
After Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report that there was, in fact, no “collusion,” Schiff continued to claim that there was “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight.”
In his letter, Nunes’s accuses Schiff of being a serial liar, one who has abandoned his oversight responsibilities and allowed the intelligence agencies he is meant to be scrutinizing to abuse the civil liberties of American citizens.
Nunes writes: “After publishing false conclusions of such enormity on a topic directly within this committee’s oversight responsibilities, it is clear you are in need of rehabilitation, and I hope this letter will serve as the first step in that vital process.”
He lists several claims in the Schiff memo that, he notes, proved false — such as the claim that “[t]he DOJ “made only narrow use of information from [Christopher] Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016.”
Next, Nunes lists several findings from the IG report. “Despite your denial of any problems with the FISA warrant,” for example, Nunes writes, “…[i]nformation provided by Christopher Steele played a ‘central and essential role’ in the decision to seek a FISA warrant on Carter Page.” He then adds: “As you know, your misguided validation of the FISA warrant was part of a years-long pattern in which you touted Christopher Steele’s credentials and reliability.”
Nunes notes that Schiff used an intelligence committee hearing in March 2017 to read “numerous conspiracy theories proffered by Steele” into the congressional record. None of those were true, the IG report determined.
Your direct participation in the smear campaign against Page is extremely concerning, considering you are chairman of the committee responsible for uncovering precisely these sorts of abuses by the Intelligence Community. Instead of joining committee Republicans in exposing these abuses, however, you excused them. And by supporting the agencies’ stonewalling of our attempts to gather information on this affair, you helped cover up this misconduct.
And Nunes concludes:
This makes it clear your rehabilitation will be a long, arduous process. As previously noted, this committee is responsible for overseeing the Intelligence Community and exposing abuses. Yet when the IG identified gross abuses in our jurisdiction, you expressed full faith in the agencies we’re supposed to be vigilantly monitoring, and you rejected any oversight whatsoever of their supposed clean-up efforts. If agencies with a documented, severe abuse problem should be trusted to police themselves, then it’s fair to ask why this committee even exists and what we’re supposed to be doing, if anything, aside from being exploited by you as a launching pad to impeach the president for issues that have no intelligence component at all.
As part of your rehabilitation, it’s crucial that you admit you have a problem—you are hijacking the Intelligence Committee for political purposes while excusing and covering up intelligence agency abuses. The next step will be to convene a hearing with IG Horowitz, as the Senate Judiciary Committee has done and the Senate Homeland Security Committee will do next week.
I understand taking action on this issue will be difficult for you, as it will be an implicit acknowledgment that you were wrong to deny these abuses and that you were complicit in the violation of an American’s civil liberties. I also understand such an acknowledgement is made even more difficult by the fact that you’ve already been discredited by your years-long false claim that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to hack the 2016 presidential election.
Nevertheless, I refuse to believe you are beyond redemption. I invite you to work closely with me on your rehabilitation program, and look forward to your scheduling a committee hearing with IG Horowitz at the nearest opportunity.
Is there a 12-step program to rehabilitate a serial liar who abuses his authority, deceives the American people, excuses FBI corruption, sees imaginary evidence, and hears imaginary phone calls? This letter by @DevinNunes to Schiff is pure fire—and hilarious: pic.twitter.com/itS54KqaxC
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) December 15, 2019
Notably, Nunes did not mention Schiff’s snooping on his phone records, which the chairman published in the impeachment report submitted to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Nunes has said that Schiff violated his civil liberties without authorization, and that he is pursuing all legal options at his disposal.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.