Some 300 hooting, jeering protesters hit the streets Friday to angrily confront House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) as he visited his district in California’s Central Valley.
“Get out of bed with Trump” and “We need a guard dog, not a lap dog” were among the signs seen and chants heard. Some protesters played the Russian national anthem.
It was Nunes’ first trip to his district since his committee’s investigation into Russian interference into the presidential election — and any links to President Donald Trump’s aides — stalled amid acrimony over Nunes’ handling of the probe and his secretive moves to protect the president.
Nunes spoke on water policy Friday in Fresno at an annual meeting of agricultural lenders. He was quickly ushered in and out of the building through a rear entryway, successfully dodging most of the protesters, according to The Fresno Bee. “Come out and play, Nunes, you coward,” shouted one man with a megaphone, according to The Associated Press.
Rarely has the seven-term congressman met with such opposition until this year.
Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, is “not working for the people. He’s working for the president and that’s not his job,” one protester told KFSN-TV. He’s supposed to be “here for us. I feel his complicity in what’s going down.” Others in the crowd called for an independent investigation into the Russia issue.
Demonstrators also called out Nunes for his work attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, for the Trump administration’s moves to slash the Environmental Protection Agency, and for Nunes’ refusal to hold town hall meetings in his district.
But the current hot-button topic was Nunes’ investigation of the Russian issue, and several signs demanded that Nunes recuse himself from the probe or resign.
In an odd, midnight trip earlier this month to the White House grounds, Nunes reportedly viewed some secret intelligence that he then presented to the White House, which is part of his committee’s investigation. The New York Times reports that Nunes was given access to the intelligence — the details of which haven’t been revealed — by White House staffers.
Nunes insisted the information, which he didn’t share with his own committee, may have revealed that some incidental surveillance of Trump occurred during the presidential campaign while federal intelligence agencies were investigating other parties. Nunes brought this up in apparent support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped during his campaign on President Barack Obama’s orders. In reality, there is no indication from Nunes’ information that Trump was a target or that his calls were wiretapped. FBI Director James Comey has testified that no such wiretapping occurred.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says he has seen the same information that Nunes viewed, and has called for it to be shared with both the House and Senate intelligence committees. “The White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee — only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House,” Schiff said in a statement.
There is currently no investigation by Nunes’ committee into Russian interference in the election. The baton has been taken up instead by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which began holding hearings on Thursday.
Nunes insisted in Fresno that his committee’s investigation isn’t dead yet. “We haven’t stopped, that’s what I’m saying,” Nunes told KFSN. “We have had investigators working every single day on this issue.”
He told the local CBS station that “there’s nobody better than me right now” to be heading an investigation into the Russia issue.