Late last month, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes had his staff cobble together a classified memo that supposedly proved the FBI and Justice Department abused their power when they obtained a warrant to spy on former Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page. After a hue and cry from both Republican lawmakers and conservative media, the committee voted along party lines to release the memo. Even though the FBI contended the memo was shot through with inaccuracies, the White House greenlighted its declassification on Friday morning.
Predictably, Democrats have blasted the memo as a hatchet job intended to discredit the investigation into Russia’s effort to hack the election. And they have an unexpected ally in former Republican congressman Joe Walsh. In a blistering op-ed that ran in Friday’s Washington Post, Walsh wrote that Nunes’ work on this memo proves that the California Republican is a “partisan hack.”
During his single term in Congress from 2011 to 2013, Walsh served on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He thus worked fairly often with Nunes, who had just joined the Intelligence Committee. Walsh remembers Nunes as “a purely partisan animal” who saw everything through “a Republican vs. Democrat lens” and sought to curry favor with “whomever he sees as the person or people running the show.” As he sees it, this memo is par for the course for Nunes, who seems to be “acting more like the chairman of the president’s reelection campaign than chairman of the Intelligence Committee.”
These aren’t the words of a RINO. Walsh is an open and unashamed conservative. During his stint in Congress, he was one of the closest things to a simon-pure tea partier–and has kept up that line on his nationally syndicated talk show. He was an early, open, and unashamed Trump supporter.
However, Walsh has shown at times that he doesn’t share most of his fellow Trump supporters’ inclination toward peddling and accepting alternative facts. For instance, he accepts the overwhelming evidence that Russia hacked the election. In Friday’s op-ed, he accused Nunes of playing politics with what should be “a nonpartisan issue–a foreign government trying to interfere with our election.”
Walsh recalled another instance where Nunes tried to play politics with this issue–when the White House spoon-fed him documents that were intended to smear Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice. As Walsh sees it, this was evidence that Nunes doesn’t understand the importance of his role.
“He’s supposed to be sorting out a high-stakes national security crisis, not scoring political points. I’m a Trump supporter, and I’m definitely no fan of Rice, but if Nunes can’t keep his eye on the ball, he shouldn’t be running any part of the investigation, and he shouldn’t be chairman.”
Walsh reminds us that intelligence committees are supposed to be “some of the least partisan committees.” He believes that Nunes has allowed the House Intelligence Committee to “devolve into finger-pointing and score-settling along party lines” while “running interference for the White House.” He then called Nunes’ bluff, suggesting that he ought to release the Democrats’ rebuttal memo, any “underlying intelligence” that can be released without compromising sources and methods, and the original FISA warrant.
Walsh expressed similar sentiments on Twitter earlier this week.
Okay, lets go ahead and release the Republican memo.
And while we're at it, lets release the Democrat memo. Lets release the underlying intelligence. Heck, lets release the original FISA warrant the memo alludes to.
Lets have full transparency, right?
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 31, 2018
.@DevinNunes should be ashamed of himself. He's not the Chair of the House Intel Committee. He's the Chair of Trump's re election campaign.
Release the memo if you want, but be honest about what it is: A Republican written political document.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) February 1, 2018
He continued smacking his own party around on Friday, starting on CNN. Watch here, courtesy Egberto Willies.
— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) February 2, 2018
Walsh told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that if Nunes was serious about getting to the bottom of what the FBI did, “he wouldn’t be acting so partisan.” While he is concerned about potential FBI abuse, he believes the matter demands “a serious, nonpartisan, bipartisan investigation”–and that’s not what we’re getting from Nunes. Instead, Walsh said, Nunes is pushing “a partisan Republican memo” that has no context or information about the underlying surveillance.
Unfortunately, in today’s GOP, there’s a price for daring to speak out against the Almighty Trump–even if you have conservative “street cred.” Walsh is already finding this out the hard way.
I was one of the most Conservative Members of Congress. I've been an outspoken Conservative on the radio for the past 4yrs.
But I tweet that I think this memo release is a partisan & dangerous act by Republicans and today I've lost 1,000 Conservative followers on Twitter.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) February 2, 2018
“Crazy” is being kind to it.
(featured image courtesy Walsh’s Facebook)