The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee, which as recently as five days ago was so closely aligned with Donald Trump that it was helping him to obstruct justice in the Russia scandal, has finally decided it’s had enough. The Devin Nunes memo has been such a debacle for the committee, exposing its GOP members to potential legal troubles, that its members are now proactively trying to wash their hands of Trump entirely.
We first saw a hint of this when the committee voted unanimously this week to release the Democratic rebuttal memo to the Nunes memo. Not only did every Republican on the committee vote for its release, Nunes also voted for its release, a sign of how much he’s suddenly become scared of his own shadow. But the real sign came earlier today, when Steve Bannon said he didn’t come in and testify today, because he wants to testify for Special Counsel Robert Mueller first.
Instead of having Bannon arrested for contempt of Congress, or even publicly lashing out at him for refusing to show up, the House Intel Committee simply decided to give Bannon another week to show up (link). This is crucial, because Trump had been using this committee to try to find out what Bannon was going to say to Mueller in advance, so Trump could defend against it. Last month Bannon spent an entire day before the committee, refusing to answer one key question about the Trump-Russia scandal after another, prompting the committee to subpoena him to come back today.
So now we know that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are no longer Donald Trump’s puppets. Trey Gowdy, the most powerful Republican on the committee, now spends his days singing Mueller’s praises. Mike Conaway, the Republican technically in charge of the committee’s Trump-Russia investigation, is just rolling with it. Devin Nunes has clearly lost the ability and/or the desire to serve as Trump’s stooge in the investigation.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report