The House of Representatives is full of testosterone-fueled GOP congressmen doing their best to scream their angry defenses of Donald Trump at top volume anytime a TV camera is pointed in their direction.
Scoring screen time on Fox News works wonders for their fund-raising efforts and helps propel representatives like Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) into the headlines and further up the Republican hierarchy as they advance their political standings in the cutthroat world of the right-wing pecking order.
No GOP congressman, however, has been more fervent in his efforts to benefit the president than the former farmer from California’s Central Valley, Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Now Nunes’ willingness to ignore the decorum of congressional norms to act as Donald Trump’s Praetorian Guard may have helped his name recognition and his electoral fundraising among the big-money donors to oligarchy-defending politicians, but — as the recent revelations from Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani indicate — may also lead to the end of his political career and lead to some serious legal trouble in the weeks ahead.
The release of a new traunch of documents culled from Parnas’ mobile devices by Nunes’ Democratic colleagues in the House last night implicates the California Republican so deeply into the inner workings of the Ukraine scandal that he may soon be on his knees begging for a presidential pardon.
Nunes — who had previously denied remembering ever having a conversation with Parnas, calling it “very unlikely” that they had ever spoken — finally admitted earlier this week on the friendly airwaves of Fox News that he had indeed spoken with the Giuliani henchman, walking back his earlier doubts with what the new documents demonstrate are a lame excuse blaming the volume of calls he fields.
“Yeah, and if you recall, that was brand new when that had come out when I came on your show. Because I just didn’t know the name — this name Parnas,” Nunes told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum. “So, you know, what I always like to remind people is, you know, we are dealing with people every day. We’re an oversight committee. So we have incoming calls that come to my office, to my cell phone, et cetera, et cetera.”
What the documents that Parnas provided to House investigators show, however, is that Nunes would have to have a mental capacity as limited as the president he has gone to such lengths to defend to not recognize the name of a man whom his top aide Derek Harvey was communicating with on an encrypted messaging app on a regular basis.
The WhatsApp messages between Parnas and Harvey show how closely Nunes was involved in the efforts by Giuliani and his cronies to dig up Ukranain dirt on Trump’s then-most credible rival for the presidency in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden.
As early as last March, the Nunes aide was pressing Parnas for evidence that would implicate Biden in Ukrainian corruption related to his son Hunter’s employment with the energy company Burisma.
“Can we get materials?” Harvey asked Parnas on March 29, 2019, referring to documents related to the Bidens.
Paernas replied by telling Harvey that he would soon be speaking with Viktor Shokin, “the general prosecutor that got fired by Biden,” as well as Yuriy Lutsenko, the then-current Prosecutor General of Ukraine who has since been implicated in offering an investigation of the Bidens in exchange for the ouster of then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
On April 17, 2019, Parnas texted Harvey: “Let’s do our call at 12 and we can do the first prosecutor at 1 your time?”“Okay,” Harvey replied.A couple of days later, Harvey took a more cautious approach when he texted Parnas: “Lev. I think we are best served by sending the official letter and receiving documentation before any more interviews.”
Attached is the first page of a five page letter in which the lawyer for @DevinNunes threatens that Rep Nunes will sue me.
Attached is my response. pic.twitter.com/bWAqdRhq97
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 17, 2020
Democrats are already calling for an ethics investigation into a reported meeting between Nunes and the former Ukraine prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in Vienna in December of 2018, while Lev Parnas has expressed amazement that the congressman was allowed to be involved in the impeachment investigation as the ranking member of the Hosue Intelligence Committee.
“I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there,” Parnas told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
He was equally shocked at seeing Derek Harvey on the dais during the congressional investigation.
“I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,'” Parnas told Maddow, explaining his disbelief stemmed from the fact that “they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.”
Depending on whether Senate Republicans are successful in keeping Trump in office after his Senate trial, Nunes may face his day of reckoning even sooner than when the results of his 2020 reelection bid are announced.
While a GOP victory in the impeachment trial may delay Nunes being held to account for his deceptive treachery, as the truth slowly leaks out, his future seems as polluted as the methane-laden emissions that his cows contribute to the atmosphere, emissions that stink as much as the congressman’s ethical standards.
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Original reporting by Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju at CNN.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.