"Welcome to another hearing of the Trump impeachment committee," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) quipped during his opening statement at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Friday.
Adam Schiff (D-CA) convened Friday's meeting to question Joseph B. Maher, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis. According to the chairman, Maher has been "preventing a lawful Intelligence Community whistleblower—the former head of an Intelligence Community element—from providing classified testimony to the Committee by delaying security clearances for his attorneys." That whistleblower leveled several allegations against the agency, including that they "suppressed intelligence reports about Russia’s election interference and efforts to modify intelligence assessments to match Trump’s rhetoric on white supremacy, Antifa, and terrorism threats at the border." He alleged that the DHS told him to stop reporting on the Russian threat to the U.S. election because it "made President Trump look bad." The White House and the DHS denied all allegations.
Nunes noted that the Democrats called the whistleblower in question a liar just a few weeks before he filed this complaint. But now, they take him as their word as their "star witness."
The ranking member accused his Democratic colleagues of dragging the panel through another investigation hoping that they'll find the "holy grail of scandals that finally gets rid of Trump without beating him in the election." They are, Nunes said, "sick fantasies."
"There's no reason for this hearing to be held in public except to stir up media interest in the Democrats' latest publicity stunt, their attack on the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security," Nunes said.
"The only reason the witness is here today is leverage, to force DHS to rush through top-secret security clearances without the appropriate background checks," he continued. "In fact, there was no reason to make this whistleblower complaint public at all. But of course, handling whistleblower complaints with discretion as this committee had always done before this Congress, is not helpful for publicity stunts. So here we go again."
SAVAGE! Devin Nunes welcomes you to Schiff's "impeachment committee," and in 6 minutes, destroys EVERY losing strategy and lie that Schiff has pushed... pic.twitter.com/rQVTS0Nwk4— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) October 2, 2020
But today's hearing gave Nunes a chance to recall the Democrats' failed attempts these past few years while they were "at the forefront of the Russian collusion hoax." They claimed they had evidence of Trump's conspiracy with the Kremlin, they tried to get nude pictures of President Trump published via Russian pranksters, they touted the credibility of the now-debunked Steele dossier. But it came to nothing. Robert Mueller failed to find evidence of collusion.
But what the DOJ IG did find, was that the FISA application used to spy on the Trump campaign was riddled with significant errors and omissions. Nunes wonders where all the intelligence committee hearings are on those issues.
"They've held a hearing on global warming, but don't care about documented corruption of the FISA process or suspect Russian agents compiling political dirt for the Democratic Party."
At this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing overseen by Chairman Lindsey Graham, he revealed that even the people who signed off on the warrant now regret their decisions. Former FBI Director James Comey claimed to know nothing about how poorly sourced the FISA application was before he agreed to it.
Rep. Nunes was amused by the Democrats' strategy once again.
"It's certainly amusing that although this complaint is supposed to be handled by the inspector general first, the Democrats have dispensed with the IG as an unnecessary middle man," he said. "Probably because the IG investigations take time, and the Democrats are operating on an election deadline."
"Almost all the Democrats are following the playbook. I would note that usually, you don't follow a playbook from a game you've lost multiple times."