Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes is in the soup again! This time, it’s a New York Times report which says that the Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that the House Intelligence Committee, of which Nunes is chair, leaked an arcane bit of Russia-investigation evidence to Fox News that, when taken out of context, was briefly embarrassing to Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. The Times says that even the Republican chair of Senate Intel, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, was peeved:
Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.
Burr is denying the substance of the Times report; CNN’s Manu Raju reports, though, that even if Burr is telling the truth (rather than simply trying to save face) other Republicans are plenty suspicious of Nunes themselves:
This is not nearly the first Russia-related soup Nunes has gotten into; his previous greatest hits including being forced to admit that he hasn’t personally read the court documents that he based an FBI–Hillary conspiracy memo on, being forced to admit that the FBI actually did disclose the information about Trump “dossier” author Christopher Steele that Nunes had accused it of not disclosing, and being forced to admit that he had coordinated his statements about the phony Obama “wiretapping” story with the White House and then lied about it. He’s forced to admit a lot of things. (He also launched his own pretend news website, whose work has included the observation that Devin Nunes is “what a hero looks like.”)
The conservative site RedState responded to Thursday’s latest embarrassment by calling for Nunes to resign his membership on the Intel committee (or for Paul Ryan to force him out):
Nunes is compromised by his partisanship. He must step down or be forced to step down immediately. Not getting rid of his presence on this committee sends a clear message to other politicians and to either side’s base voters that this type of behavior is okay. We cannot tolerate this behavior, however, because of the nature of the intelligence committee’s job.
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd then went so far as to call Nunes’ handling of House Intel “a mess.”
When someone who embodies the ostentatiously objective, assiduously nonpartisan school of Beltway journalism as much as Todd does is willing to call you a “mess,” the soup is starting to get pretty hot. As Todd notes, though, one service of great value that Nunes provides to the Republican Party is being willing to channel Donald Trump’s talking points—and wishes regarding the direction of the House’s Russia inquiry—from a position of (ostensible) independence. This mess could well continue for some time.