The Los Angeles Times referred to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) as the “impeachment inquisitor” in an article Sunday, implying that he is somehow in charge of the House Intelligence Committee’s one-sided “impeachment inquiry.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “inquisition” as “an investigation conducted with little regard for individual rights,” a term derived from the medieval Inquisition, an investigation for heresy by the Church in which targets were often considered guilty until proven innocent. The term usually has a pejorative connotation.
Nunes is the ranking member, the leader of the Republican minority, on the House Intelligence Committee. In that capacity, he has opposed the Inquisition-style processes of the inquiry, which is run by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Republicans, including Nunes, have compared Schiff’s methods to an Inquisition, because it departs from clear and established precedents for impeachment inquiries, and because it denies basic procedural fairness to President Donald Trump.
Schiff began the inquiry in closed-door hearings that were inaccessible to the public, the press, and even the rest of the House, held in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.
Under the rules later adopted by Schiff and House Democrats for example, the president has been denied legal representation in the hearings. Schiff can veto Republican witnesses, but Nunes cannot object to Democratic witnesses. Moreover, Schiff has prevented Nunes from yielding speaking time to other Republican members of the committee, a departure from the customary practice. He has also summarily ignored Republican points of order.
And yet the Times calls Nunes the “impeachment inquisitor” — as if he is the aggressor, setting the unfair rules. In an article titled “California’s Nunes, impeachment inquisitor, dodges question over alleged meeting with Ukrainian ex-prosecutor,” staff writer Laura King wrote Sunday: “For the past two weeks of historic public impeachment hearings against President Trump, Rep. Devin Nunes has played the role of high-profile inquisitor.”
The article focuses on a claim in a CNN story on Friday that Nunes met last year in Vienna with former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whom former Vice President Joe Biden infamously insisted that Ukraine fire — or lose $1 billion in loan guarantees.
Shokin was responsible for a then-dormant investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that appointed Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, as a well-compensated board member in 2014, following a local political crisis.
Nunes told Breitbart News the story was “demonstrably false” and said he intended to sue CNN and the Daily Beast, which also published the allegation.
The California Republican has been a stumbling for Democrats seeking to use the Intelligence Committee to oust President Trump since 2017. As chair of the Intelligence Committee, for example, he discovered that the Obama administration had “unmasked” the names of Americans caught in government surveillance of foreigners. Democrats tried to sideline him with an ethics investigation, which ultimately cleared him.
The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has lost public support since the first public hearings were held nearly two weeks ago, as the public has struggled to understand the basis of the effort to remove the president.
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.