It’s time to start those New Year’s resolutions. Here’s one for left-leaning politicians and pundits, plus those on the Never Trump right: Apologize to Rep. Devin Nunes.
Since Nunes first began investigating Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other abuse underlying the Department of Justice and FBI’s probe into the Russia collusion hoax, he’s been maligned and defamed from the floor of Congress to the front pages of liberal legacy outlets and their replacement digital sources. With Twitter and other social media platforms aerosolizing the assaults on the former head of the House Intelligence Committee, the false attacks on Nunes circulated widely.
But now we know the truth: Nunes was right. There was widespread FISA abuse. If anything, the California congressman understated the amount of abuse involved in the targeting of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
Not that it was Nunes’ fault. He fought tooth and nail for access to the documents and information needed to provide the necessary congressional oversight. Still, with the limited information available, Nunes succeeded in exposing numerous problems with the Page FISA applications, later confirmed by Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 400-page tome.
Yet, with access to the same information, Nunes’ Democratic counterpart, Rep. Adam Schiff, spent more than a year proclaiming there was no FISA abuse. Calling the memorandum little more than a “conspiracy theory” in an Washington Post op-ed, Schiff later penned a Democratic response to Nunes’ memo.
The IG report gave truth to those lies Schiff spread, in spades. So, Schiff would be a good one to start the necessary New Year’s resolution repentance. It could be a simple, “I’m sorry, Devin.” What a great start to the New Year and new decade, and an example to America that truth can triumph over partisanship.
While he’s at it, Schiff should show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the way, the truth, and the reality. Pelosi’s latest canard might be the Ukrainian impeachment hoax, but in the days leading up to the release of Nunes’ memo, the then-minority leader penned a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan demanding Nunes be removed as Intelligence Committee chairman.
Nunes “disgraced” the committee, with his “dishonest” handling of the committee’s review of the Russia collusion problem, Pelosi wrote. The committee proceedings had become a “charade” and a “coverup campaign . . . to hide the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal,” Pelosi claimed in her letter to the now-retired Ryan.
Now that it is clear the only charade emanating from the House Intelligence Committee came in the form Democrats’ response memo, she should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Schiff and say “sorry.”
Several former high-level officials likewise owe Nunes an apology, starting with the fired ex-FBI Director James Comey. “That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what?” Comey tweeted after Nunes’ memo dropped.
While he’s at it, Comey should take the opportunity to also apologize to the FISA court for the frauds the FBI perpetrated under his watch.
Former CIA Director John Brennan likewise needs to start the year fresh with a much-needed mea culpa to Nunes. Shortly after release of the Nunes memo, the former IC chief condemned the House Intelligence Committee chair on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” Brennan intoned, adding that “he has abused the chairmanship” of the House Intelligence Committee.
Then there’s Mother Jones’ David Corn, who owes both Nunes and his readers an apology. Mere days before the 2016 election, Corn gave Steele—generically described as a “former senior intelligence officer for a Western Country”—and his dossier exposure and undeserved credibility.
Corn wrote that his source had “provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.” The Mother Jones reporter added cachet to the claims by stressing that another source confirmed the Russian expert had “been a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government.”
Now that the IG has outed Steele’s reporting as hackish, and his prior record as unimportant and at best minimally corroborated, Corn should say sorry for believing the former “moderately senior” MI6 employee. Then Corn should continue with an apology to Nunes—whom he continued to belittle long after the release of the Nunes memo.
The entire Lawfare group should also join forces to make amends to Nunes. “The Nunes memo was dishonest. And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy,” one Lawfare article read shortly after the release of the memo. The theme continued unabated for the last 18 months.
But alas, given the reaction by Lawfare Senior Editor Susan Hennessey to the IG report, such self-reflection seems unlikely.
Maybe it’s the right that needs to commit to better habits for the New Year. Stop reading their drivel? Stop hoping they’ll recognize their complete abandonment of journalistic integrity? Or stop boasting, “I told you so.”