Nunes has created his own alternative news site called The California Republican whose headlines include “CNN busted for peddling fake news AGAIN!” https://t.co/cW39gRgrMX
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 11, 2018
Nunes Memo Reveals Congressman’s Penchant for Conspiracy Theories https://t.co/dDEp0cS0rC
— Jeff Stein (@SpyTalker) February 11, 2018
… “Nut job” has clung to Nunes’s reputation as long as he’s been chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI, in Washington-speak). Or at least among Democrats (and some Republicans) who have decried Nunes’s transformation of a once bipartisan national security panel into a GOP platform to attack Democrats.
Janz thinks he knows why: Nunes’s mentorship by Michael Flynn, the now disgraced former Trump national security adviser. “I know that they had a pretty close relationship,” he said. Nunes served on the executive committee of the Trump transition team with Flynn, he noted, which was headed by Vice President Mike Pence, “and it seems to me like he never left. He’s still on that team.“
A descendent of Portuguese Azorean immigrants, Nunes grew up on a Central Valley, California farm and concentrated on water issues when he came to Congress in 2003. But his fundraising prowess for fellow Republicans endeared him to Representative Paul Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner, who in 2013 anointed him chairman of the intelligence panel.
Like many hawks back then, Nunes was in awe of Flynn, who had won praise for revolutionizing the hunt for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This guy was one of the best intelligence officers in several generations,” Nunes told me in a December 23, 2016 interview. “I don’t know if you’ve ever met him, but Flynn is extremely smart. He really is top notch.”
Nunes was speaking fives months after Flynn had startled many former military officers by leading “Lock her up” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention. It was also two years after the Obama White House has forced Flynn’s resignation as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “What happened,” Nunes told me, “is…he went out and said a lot of things that Obama didn’t like…”
But that’s not close to the full story on Flynn, whose battlefield talents didn’t transfer well to running the DIA from 2012 to 2014. Not only were his executive skills lacking, according to many observers, including former Army general and Secretary of State Colin Powell, he quickly developed a reputation for indulging in conspiracy theories—or “Flynn facts,” his aides derisively called them.
But Nunes embraced them. During Flynn’s tenure, the neophyte intelligence overseer and the general came to share a number of beliefs. One was that the CIA was suppressing the release of documents captured from Osama Bin Laden’s lair that supposedly showed a closer relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran than the Obama White House, then conducting backchannel talks with Tehran on halting its nuclear weapons program, wanted known. Nunes, according to a then-close observer, demanded the CIA open up its files for him and Flynn one Saturday. “He was going to sneak up on them” on a weekend, the source snorted, speaking on terms of anonymity to discuss the sensitive incident. Nunes denied that excursion, but said he did go down to Central Command headquarters in Tampa “to meet with the team that was doing exploitation of the documents in 2013.”…