Investigator Devin Nunes begs to be investigated

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.. | AP Photo

Follow @csteditorialsRep. Devin Nunes is unfit to investigate a jaywalker. He should be a target of investigation himself.

Nunes, a Republican from California, should recuse himself as head of the House Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russian meddling, possibly in cahoots with the campaign of Donald Trump, in the presidential election. He also should divulge to the committee who it was at the White House who showed him secret intelligence reports last week, and what was in those reports.

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If Nunes was not acting at the instruction of the president or a top White House aide — a reasonable suspicion at this point — when he made public statements, based on the reports, that served Trump’s interests, it’s up to the congressman to prove otherwise. Specifically, Nunes announced that Trump’s transition team had been inadvertently monitored by American intelligence agencies after the election.

Nunes’ duplicity — pretending to investigate Trump while working back channels to provide cover for the president — has destroyed what little credibility the House Intelligence Committee had left. His compromising actions come just one week after Republicans on the committee, while questioning FBI Director James Comey, did their level best to divert attention from the core question of Russia’s involvement in the election by railing instead about who leaked the story to the media. They had their priorities backward, entirely by design.

As Garry Kasparov, the Russian dissident and former world chess champion, said in a tweet: “The house is on fire, Trump is running around with a box of matches, and the GOP demands to know who called the fire department.”

Nothing will do now except to appoint a special prosecutor, as we have urged before. The inability of the House to conduct an independent and thorough inquiry could not be more clear. Short of a special prosecutor, we can only hope that separate ongoing probes by the Senate and the FBI will be more credible.

Asked by reporters Tuesday whether he will continue to lead the House panel’s investigation while still clamming up about his White House misadventure, Nunes said, “Well, why would I not?”

Why would he not?

Because an honest investigator does not slip over to the house of the fellow he is supposed to investigate and help him prepare his defense.

If Nunes refuses to step down, House Speaker Paul Ryan should replace him. We need an investigation, not a whitewash.

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