One CNN “exclusive” and one tweet in a matter of 24 hours put into focus several vague and seemingly unconnected events.
First came CNN’s Friday report that a lawyer for the Soviet-born American Lev Parnas says his client is willing to tell Congress that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes met with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin last December in Vienna “to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.” That same story stressed that Parnas—who is currently under indictment for campaign finance violations—has connections to Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
The next day, Giuliani took to Twitter, stating that he had “discovered a pattern of corruption that the Washington press covered up for years!” “I’m also going to bring out a massive pay-for-play scheme under the Obama Administration that will devastate the Democrat Party,” the former New York City mayor tweeted.
To punctuate matters, Giuliani, who during his time as the Southern District of New York’s U.S. attorney took on the Mafia, including the leaders of the five largest mob families, queried: “Do you honestly think I’m intimidated?
The Nunes story sounded a familiar chord: Democrats had accused the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee—now ranking member—of ethical violations stemming from claims he shared with the White House classified information about the intelligence committee’s work on the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. That ethics charge prompted some of Nunes’s then-Republican colleagues, most notably Rep. Paul Ryan, to push him out as the leader of the Russian investigation.
At the time, Nunes said in a statement that, “despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress to step aside from the Russia inquiry while the Ethics Committee investigates.” The House Ethics Committee cleared Nunes of wrongdoing, but only after he had been sidelined by the charges for some eight months.
Some Democrats are now raising calls for launching a second ethics investigation into Nunes based on the conduct described in the CNN story. “‘If Devin Nunes was using taxpayer money to do political errands in Vienna for his puppeteer, Donald Trump,’ Congresswoman Jackie Spreier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, an ethics investigation should be initiated.”
While Nunes remains mum about the specifics of the CNN report and in a similar story pushed by The Daily Beast, he broadly refuted the tales, telling Breitbart News that “these demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth.” Nunes added that he intends to sue both liberal news outlets.
That Nunes feels confident enough to unequivocally deny the stories as “false and scandalous” suggests the Republican representative can easily disprove the claims. That should not be surprising: Nunes surely has readily available documentation establishing that he did not visit Vienna during his December European vacation. If such evidence is available at the ready, Nunes will be able to quickly parlay the media and Democrats’ latest attack on him as fake news reminiscent of the Michael Cohen in Prague scandal.
But the latest hit on Nunes is much more than the mere peddling of fake news: It is the repeat of a pattern run by the left for the last three years. And it was the Giuliani tweet that revealed the play.
In his tweet, the former prosecutor spoke of corruption under the Obama administration and a “massive pay-for-play scheme” he had discovered. Giuliani then stressed he wasn’t about to be intimidated.
That closer resonated because the press and Democrats have been trying to intimidate Giuliani by casting him as a co-conspirator with Trump (and Nunes) in a plot to improperly obtain dirt on the Bidens. But if the most recent accusations against Nunes prove bogus—as the first set of ethics charges did—why should we credit a similar attack against Giuliani?
The answer is we shouldn’t. Rather, we should see the pattern underlying the attacks pushed by the media to Democrats’ benefit. That pattern is simple: taint Republicans investigating matters that threaten the left, either forcing them out of their leadership positions or using the manufactured scandal to breed public distrust in their conclusions.
We saw this when Barack Obama warned President-elect Trump about Michael Flynn, and later an FBI set-up led to his eventual firing by Trump. Next came Jeff Sessions, who recused from the Russia collusion probe based on a supposed conflict-of-interest, allowing for the appointment of a special counsel.
Then, after William Barr began poking the swamp creatures, you saw the so-called whistleblower’s attempt to connect the attorney general to the accusations made against Trump concerning a supposed quid pro quo offer to Ukraine. Following this revelation, calls came for Barr’s recusal, but unlike his predecessor, Barr refused to step down based on a manufactured conflict.
Given this now-obvious modus operandi, the public should be guarded when confronted with blockbuster exclusives that seemingly discredit the conservatives leading the charge against Spygate—both the original involving Russia and the latest involving its neighbor to the west. And it shouldn’t be long now until we learn whether such a cautious approach to the accusations against Nunes proved wise.