Bruni: Devin Nunes so deep in the tank for Trump he needs scuba gear


Rep. Devin Nunes obviously fancies himself Jason Bourne. To sneak onto the White House grounds for that rendezvous with an unnamed source, he switched cars and ditched aides, vanishing into the night.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sees a different character. Graham said on the “Today” show on March 28 that Nunes was bumbling his way through something of an “Inspector Clouseau investigation,” a reference to the fantastically inept protagonist of the “Pink Panther” comedies.

I salute Graham’s movie vocabulary. I quibble with his metaphor. While Clouseau was a benign fool, there’s nothing benign about Nunes’ foolishness.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes, R-Calif., is a principal sleuth in the paramount inquiry into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and from all appearances, he either doesn’t want to know the answer or has determined it already — in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Democrats are rightly calling on him to recuse himself. As Graham summoned the specter of Clouseau, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on “CBS This Morning” that “something’s got to change.”

“Otherwise,” he continued, “the whole effort in the House of Representatives will lose credibility.”

But Nunes was defiant when asked on March 28 whether he would continue, saying, “Why would I not?”

Oh, many reasons.

Let’s start here: His committee isn’t supposed to be a partisan arm of the majority party. And any collusion with the White House is a betrayal of its special oversight role.

But Nunes is so deep in the tank for Trump that he needs scuba gear. It’s Trump’s gratitude that he’s after, not the truth.

When politicians upbraided Trump for his baseless accusations about the wiretapping of Trump Tower, Nunes swooped in to say, “I don’t think we should attack the president for tweeting.” But Twitter was hardly the issue. The president’s paranoid hallucinations were.

When FBI Director James Comey appeared before Nunes’ committee to confirm his agency’s investigation into Trump-Russia ties, Nunes changed the subject, going on about leaks, leaks, leaks. He sounded more like a plumber than a politician.

And when Nunes gathered reporters two days later, it was to say that he’d seen secret documents suggesting that people around Trump may indeed have been subject to surveillance by our government.

This was Nunes at his most irresponsible.

Last week we learned that Nunes got that information during that rendezvous, details of which he has not provided to his fellow committee members, just as he failed to share the information itself with Democrats on the committee before he went public with it.

A Republican insider who once worked closely with him described him to me as an “overeager goofball” who can’t see “the line between ingratiating and stupid.”

“No one is asking him to bring the potato salad to the Mensa picnic,” my source said.

Salad and more salad: Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, complained to reporters on March 28 that “if the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection.”

Spicer is right that we’re obsessed with Russia, wrong that it’s as random as condiments. We’re obsessed because every signal from the administration and its allies is that they don’t want us looking, and Nunes’ Bourne identity is the most glaring signal of all.

If Trump and his associates have nothing to hide, why all the cloak and dagger? And why such clumsiness?



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: What should we fight for?

“We will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna. “Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” Tillerson’s principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force &mdash...
COMMENTARY: Alabama, sweet home of progress

Alabama. Who knew it would become one of the most beautiful words in American politics? It turns out there could have been no better place to test the limits of indecency, the limits of Trumpism, the limits of Republican partisanship and, yes, the limits of racial subjugation. If the angry ideology of the far right cannot make it in one of our most...
Opinion: For the holidays, pull a tooth or save a life

Happy holidays! In the spirit of the season, here’s a suggestion: Instead of inflicting a garish tie on your brother or a carcinogenic face cream on your aunt, how about saving a life? It’s time for my annual “gifts with meaning” guide, with suggestions for presents that won’t just clog a chest of drawers. Consider a $20...
Opinion: Let’s liberate blacks from harmful left-wing politics

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows yet another perspective on the deep racial division in our country. According to the poll, 86 percent of blacks compared to 50 percent of whites say that President Trump does not “respect people of color as much as he respects white people.” However the partisan divide is even greater than the racial...
Letters Educating children is every taxpayer’s concern
Letters Educating children is every taxpayer’s concern

Educating children is everyone’s concern This is a response to the letter-writer who feels that we seniors shouldn’t have to pay school taxes because we don’t have children in school: I gladly paid school taxes on Long Island, New York, after my children were grown and before retiring to Boynton Beach. Why? Because my children&rsquo...
More Stories