I had barely ever heard of Devin Nunes before two weeks ago — other than the fact that “California Republican” sounds weirdly paradoxical— but when history books are written about the scandal that will hopefully one day take down Donald Trump, Nunes could be a central figure, a John Mitchell or a G. Gordon Liddy.
While the investigation in recent weeks has moved ahead with steady progress as the intelligence community continues to crowd around Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and other figures, Nunes raised enough eyebrows last week to give America a collective migraine.
This is what we know: Devin Nunes met with someone at the White House (likely someone in the White House), who provided him with information showing that figures of the Trump transition team had been legally surveilled by the Obama-era intelligence community under a lawful FISA warrant. The surveillance caught members Trump transition team (including, perhaps, Trump) talking with foreign agents and/or diplomats, and while Nunes said that nothing on the transcripts were salacious, he has expressed concerns about the fact that the transcripts reportedly floated around the White House in the months leading up to the inauguration. According to Nunes, most of the names were masked, but it wasn’t difficult to discern who was speaking or who was being talked about. Everything is on the up and up legally, but Nunes still thinks its uncool (although, is it more uncool than collusion with Russia, Devin?)
Nunes, who received this information at the White House, gave a press conference the next day revealing what he had seen, and then took the information back to the White House and the President — who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation — before showing any of the intel to the rest of the Intelligence Committee, which actually still has not seen the information.
The initial theories that emerged suggested that this was all an elaborate, orchestrated set up to provide Donald Trump with political cover over tweets he wrote alleging that President Obama tapped his Trump Tower phones (allegations that are unfounded and unsubstantiated, even by Nunes’ revelations).
However, in light of this information, Nunes abruptly cancelled Intelligence Committee hearings with James Clapper and Sally Yates amidst calls for his resignation from Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and other leading Democrats over questions about Nunes’ impartiality. Even Republican John McCain has questions about Nunes and is asking for an independent, bi-partisan investigation.
McCain on Nunes getting intel at WH: “I’ve been around for quite a while, and I’ve never heard of any such thing” pic.twitter.com/Ven61GBLsY— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 28, 2017
The theory that has emerged comes from Jeremy Bash — the former chief of staff at Defense Department and CIA under Obama — who believes that Nunes engineered the entire fiasco in order to prevent Sally Yates from testifying. Yates, as most recall, was the acting Attorney General who was fired by Donald Trump for refusing to enforce the Muslim ban. She also reportedly told the White House about Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia weeks before Donald Trump asked for his resignation.
Jeremy does not exaggerate or take chances. This should be listened to and taken very seriously. https://t.co/uo29DjTKN3— Jon (((Wolfsthal))) (@JBWolfsthal) March 28, 2017
Interesting—Jeremy Bash implies Sally Yates had revelations for House Intel about when she told WH that Flynn lied. Nunes nixed the hearing. pic.twitter.com/vKCd1jdoc5— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 28, 2017
According to Bash, Yates had some “very interesting” things to reveal about her meeting with the White House re: Michael Flynn, who may yet still be the key to all of this. It’s being suggested that all of this was an elaborately choreographed gag order on Sally Yates.
Meanwhile, there are rumors swirling based on open reporting and some sourcing that Michael Flynn — who has completely disappeared from the scene — may have flipped and agreed to rat his boss out to the FBI. That’s just a rumor, but one bolstered by the fact that Manafort, Carter Page, and Jared Kushner have all agreed to testify in front of Congress, but that Michael Flynn has not, and he couldn’t if he was working as an FBI witness.
It’s notable that Yates and Flynn have vanished from the public scene.
Meanwhile, Trump is tweeting like a guy desperate to shift the focus of the investigation.
Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian "reset," praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
The thing is: It’s gonna come out. Unless Michael Flynn and Sally Yates “take a trip to Belize,” their testimony will eventually surface, and if they have the goods on Trump, that’s when the jaws of life collapse in on the White House. And if either Flynn or Yates do take a trip to Belize, we’re all in deep shit.
This theory seems to be 100 percent correct, according to a WashPo story that just broke:
The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation into links between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, the Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the probe.
According to a series of letters reviewed by The Post, Yates was notified earlier this month by the Justice Department that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege.
Yates’ lawyer sent a letter Friday to the White House lawyer, McGahn, saying that any claim of privilege “has been waived as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials describing the January 2017 communications. Nevertheless, I am advising the White House of Ms. Yates’ intention to provide information.”
That same day, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, announced he would not go forward with the public hearing that was to feature Yates’ testimony.
Interesting. Right after Yates expressed her intent to provide information, Nunes cancelled the hearing. So, what Yates knows can definitely hurt Trump. Woah.
The question now is: Will Yates ever be able to testify?