Devin Nunes
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Devin Nunes

Devin Nunes
Devin Nunes.jpg
Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee

January 3, 2019
Adam Schiff
Chair of the House Intelligence Committee

January 3, 2015 - January 3, 2019
Mike Rogers
Adam Schiff
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California

January 3, 2003
Bill Thomas
Constituency21st district (2003-2013)
22nd district (2013-present)
Personal details
Born
Devin Gerald Nunes

(1973-10-01) October 1, 1973 (age 46)
Tulare, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Tamariz (m. 2003)
Children3
EducationCollege of the Sequoias
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (BS, MS)
Signature
WebsiteHouse website

Devin Gerald Nunes GOIH (;[1] born October 1, 1973) is an American Republican politician and former dairy farmer. He has served as the U.S. Representative for California's 22nd congressional district since 2003, was the chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence until January 3, 2019, and was a member of President Trump's transition team.[2] Nunes's district, numbered as the 21st from 2003 to 2013 and as the 22nd after redistricting, is in the San Joaquin Valley and includes most of western Tulare County and much of eastern Fresno County.

In March 2017 the U.S. House intelligence committee, which Nunes chaired at the time, launched an investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. On April 6, 2017, he temporarily stepped aside from leading that investigation while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated allegations, which Nunes denied, that he had improperly disclosed classified information to the public.[3][4] In December 2017 the United States House Committee on Ethics closed its investigation without taking any action against Nunes.[5]

In February 2018 Nunes publicly released the Nunes memo, a four-page memorandum alleging a Federal Bureau of Investigation conspiracy against Donald Trump. The U.S. House intelligence committee concluded its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in March 2018, concluding that there had not been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The committee also concluded that Russia had not sought Trump's election, but the Democratic minority argued that it was premature to end the investigation. Nunes subsequently began an investigation of the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly abusing their powers in an attempt to hurt Trump.[6][7] Nunes's attacks on the FBI and the investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller have created concerns among Democrats and some Republicans about Republican efforts to halt the investigation and to protect Trump from any allegations against him.[8]

Early life, education and career

Nunes was born on October 1, 1973,[9] the older of two sons born to Antonio L. "Anthony" Nunes, Jr. and Toni Diane Nunes (née Enas).[10] His family operated a farm in Tulare County until 2006, when they sold the property and purchased a dairy in Sibley, Iowa.[11][12][13] Nunes is of three-quarters Portuguese descent, with ancestors emigrating from the Azores to California.[14][15] He has one younger brother, Anthony III. After receiving his Associate of Arts degree from the College of the Sequoias, Nunes graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor's degree in agricultural business and a master's degree in agriculture.[16]

In 2009 Nunes wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he became an entrepreneur at age 14 when he bought seven head of young cattle, learning quickly how to profit from his investment.[17]

In 2001 he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as California State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development section.[18]

Election history

In 2002 Nunes ran for the Republican nomination in the 21st congressional district, a new district created through reapportionment after the 2000 United States Census. His principal opponents in the crowded seven-way primary were former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson and state Assemblyman Mike Briggs. Nunes was the only major candidate from Tulare County; Patterson and Briggs were both from Fresno. This was critical, as 58% of the district's population was in Tulare County.[19] Patterson and Briggs split the vote in Fresno County, allowing Nunes to win by a four-point margin over Patterson, his nearest competitor. Nunes won 46.5% of the vote in Tulare County and 28.1% of the vote in Fresno County. Nunes was also helped by a strong showing in the rural part of the district.[20] He won the endorsements of the California Farm Bureau and The Fresno Bee.[19] The district is solidly Republican, and Nunes coasted to victory in November. He was reelected seven times against only nominal Democratic opposition until 2018, when he faced a serious opponent and won his ninth election by 5%.[21][22] He ran unopposed in the 2010 general election.

Nunes's district was renumbered the 22nd after the 2010 census. It lost most of eastern Tulare County to the neighboring 23rd District, and now has a small plurality of Hispanic voters. Despite these changes, it is no less Republican than its predecessor. Nunes was reelected with 62% of the vote in 2012, 72% in 2014, 68% in 2016, and 53% in 2018.[23][24][25]

During the 2014 election cycle Nunes received approximately $1.4 million in political action committee (PAC) contributions.[26] During the 2016 election cycle, he received approximately $1.6 million in campaign contributions from PACs.[27]

In 2018 Nunes faced Democratic nominee Andrew Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor.[28] Nunes defeated Janz with 53% of the vote to Janz's 47%.[29]

U.S. Congress

Nunes with President George W. Bush in 2003

Committees and caucuses

In 2015 Nunes became the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.[30]

Nunes is co-chair (along with Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado) of the U.S.-Mexico Friendship Caucus. In that capacity, he and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer met with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico in April 2012.[31]

Nunes is a member of the House Baltic Caucus[32] and the U.S.-Japan Caucus.[33]

112th Congress

114th Congress

  • House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- (Chairman)[3]

Political views

Former Trump campaign CEO and chief strategist Steve Bannon has described Nunes as Trump's second-strongest ally in Congress.[7]

Nunes at CPAC in 2018

Energy

On July 28, 2010, Nunes introduced H.R. 5899, "A Roadmap for America's Energy Future", which would have accelerated the exploration and production of fossil fuel, supported the rapid development of market-based alternative energy supplies, and expanded the number of nuclear reactors from 104 to 300 over the next 30 years.[34]Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "It's a bill designed to produce energy, not restrict it" with "no freebies", and "offers a competitive twist to government support of renewable energy."[35]

Environment

Nunes wrote in his book that members of the environmental lobby were "followers of neo-Marxist, socialist, Maoist or Communist ideals".[36]

In February 2014, during a drought in California, Nunes rejected any link to global warming, saying "Global warming is nonsense."[37] He has said it was a "man-made drought" due to water restrictions from the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and other environmental regulations that have seen water allocations decline dramatically even in non-drought years.[38]

He criticized the federal government for shutting off portions of California's system of water irrigation and storage and diverting water into a program for freshwater salmon and the delta smelt.[37] Nunes co-sponsored the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act to stop a project designed to restore a dried-up section of the San Joaquin River. He also co-sponsored the California Emergency Drought Relief Act. The bills passed the House of Representatives in February 2014 and December 2014 respectively, but were not voted on by the Senate.

In an April 2015 National Review article, Nunes responded to criticism that California farmers were making the state's drought worse since they used 80 percent of the state's water, often on water-intensive crops such as almonds. Nunes is a third-generation dairy farmer. He said that 50% of California water is actually used for environmental causes while farmers only use 40%. Nunes added that the problem is worse because California lacks adequate water storage facilities due to environmentalist opposition, but that California is still prepared for five years of drought.[39]

Fiscal policy

On January 27, 2010, Nunes co-sponsored H.R. 4529, Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2010, the Republican Party's budget proposal.[40][41]

On December 2, 2010, Nunes introduced H.R. 6484, the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act, which would "provide for reporting and disclosure by State and local public employee retirement pension plans," but it never received a vote.[42][43]

Nunes has long been a proponent of a consumption tax model and has been influenced by David Bradford.[44] In 2016, he introduced the American Business Competitiveness Act (H.R. 4377), known as the ABC Act, a "cash-flow tax plan" featuring full expensing and a reduction of the highest rate for federal corporate income tax rate to 25%.[44] Nunes's proposal was influential among House Republicans, and had similarities to the House Republican tax plan introduced by Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady in June 2016.[44] Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that Nunes had "a tremendous impact on the debate" for a non-chairman.[44]

In April 2016 Nunes voted for the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, a bill that would prevent the IRS from accessing the names of donors to nonprofit organizations.[45] Critics of the bill, which was promoted by the Koch brothers, say IRS access to donor information is important for ensuring that foreign funds do not impact U.S. elections.[45]

Nunes voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[46]

Healthcare

In 2009 Nunes co-authored the "Patients' Choice Act" with Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the House, and Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in the Senate. The bill would have established a system of state health insurance exchanges and amended the Internal Revenue Code to allow a refundable tax credit for qualified health care insurance coverage. It also proposed to absorb Medicaid programs into the exchange system.[47] The Patients' Choice Act was incorporated into the "Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2010".

Nunes opposes the Affordable Care Act and has stated it cannot be fixed.[48] In 2017 he voted to repeal it.[49]

Immigration and refugees

Nunes supported President Trump's 2017 executive order imposing a temporary ban on entry into the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, calling it "a common-sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland".[50]

Intelligence Committee

Nunes opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international agreement that the U.S. and other major world powers negotiated with Iran, under which Iran was granted partial sanctions relief in exchange for limits and monitoring of its nuclear activities.[51][52]

As House Intelligence Committee chairman, Nunes oversaw the Republican-controlled committee's two-year-long investigation into the U.S. response to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The committee's final report found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or any other Obama administration officials, and concluded that the response of CIA and U.S. military to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound was correct.[53] The committee's report debunked "a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies" about the attack, determining that "there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria", but found "that the State Department facility where [Christopher] Stevens and [Sean] Smith were killed was not well-protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack".[53]

Paul Ryan vacated the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee when he replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ryan asked Nunes to stay on the Intelligence Committee, and Nunes complied.[54][55]

Marijuana policy

Nunes has a "D" rating from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for his voting history on cannabis-related causes.[56]

Surveillance

In January 2019 Congress passed a bill Nunes supported, which extends Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until 2023, and President Trump signed it into law that month. FISA Section 702 allows the National Security Agency to conduct searches of foreigners' communications without a warrant. The process incidentally collects information from Americans. Nunes lauded the bill's passing: "The House of Representatives has taken a big step to ensure the continuation of one of the Intelligence Community's most vital tools for tracking foreign terrorists".[57][58][59][60]

Transportation

California State Route 99 is a highway running north-south that branches from Interstate 5 at the community of Wheeler Ridge in Kern County and continues northward through the Central Valley until it connects with Interstate 5 again at Red Bluff in Tehama County. In 2005 Nunes introduced H.R. 99, which designated State Route 99 as a congressional High Priority Corridor. The bill also provided federal authorization for Highway 99 to become part of the Interstate Highway System. On February 17, 2011, Nunes introduced H.R. 761, the "San Joaquin Valley Transportation Enhancement Act", which would give the State of California the option to redirect federal high-speed rail funds to finance improvements to Highway 99.[61] H.R. 761 was cosponsored by Jeff Denham (R-CA) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).[62]

U.S. base in Portugal

In 2015 Nunes clashed with the Pentagon over a U.S. base in the Azores, Portugal, where his ancestors stem from.[63] He proposed relocating Africa Command and European Command intelligence centers to the Azores, contrary to plans by Pentagon and NATO to create a larger intelligence "fusion" facility in the United Kingdom, maintaining that this would save money because of the Azores' lower living and construction costs.[64] The Pentagon responded by stating "Moving to Lajes Field is very expensive and living is expensive as well."[65]

Comments about other politicians

During the debate over President Obama's health care bill in the House of Representatives, Nunes said of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "For most of the 20th century people fled the ghost of communist dictators and now you are bringing the ghosts back into this chamber."[66] He has also had a long-running dispute with another San Francisco Bay-area Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, over California water policy and other issues,[67] even running a series of advertisements against her in California.[68]

Nunes's criticisms have not been limited to liberals or the Obama administration. During the October 2013 budget standoff Nunes called certain members of his own Republican Conference who favored a government shutdown "lemmings with suicide vests". "It's kind of an insult to lemmings to call them lemmings" because of their tactics, he said.[69][70][71]

In May 2014 Nunes came under fire when he charged that Michigan Congressman and fellow Republican Justin Amash was "al-Qaeda's best friend in Congress" because of Amash's supposed voting record on National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance. At the time, Amash had voted in opposition to a Nunes water bill for California "on constitutional grounds".[72]

Role in Trump/Russia investigation

In February 2017 Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.[73] He rejected repeated calls for an investigation by a select committee,[74][75] saying that the House should not engage in a "witch hunt" and that "at this point, there's nothing there".[75] Nunes also rejected calls that he request President Trump's tax returns.[73] At a White House communications aide's request, Nunes spoke to a reporter for The Wall Street Journal to challenge a story about the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.[76]

When Trump's national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled Mike Pence about his communication with Russian officials, Nunes said he would not seek to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia: "From everything that I can see, his conversations with the Russian ambassador--he was doing this country a favor, and he should be thanked for it."[77]

On March 22, 2017, during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, Nunes held a press conference to announce that he had received information that communications of members of Trump's transition team had been "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community. The communications had been obtained legally during foreign intelligence surveillance, but were not related to Russia. He added that the information was "widely disseminated" in the intelligence community and later clarified that Trump associates were not necessarily participants in the intercepted conversations. Nunes had met his source for the information one day earlier at the White House grounds, with a spokesman for Nunes saying this provided "a secure location" to view the material.[78] Although Nunes had characterized his intelligence sources as whistleblowers whose identities he had to protect, The New York Times reported that they were actually White House officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis,[79] while The Washington Post reported that apart from Cohen-Watnick and Ellis, a third man, National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg, was also involved.[80]

Nunes was widely criticized for sharing this information with the media and the president before briefing his colleagues on the committee.[81] According to Nunes, the intercepted communications came in November, December and January --after Trump won the election but before he was sworn in as president.[82]Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and House Democratic leadership called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.[4] He also received criticism from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.[83] The latter compared Nunes's actions to those of the comically incompetent fictional character Inspector Clouseau.[84] Nunes was criticized by Democrats and some Republicans for sharing information on an investigation of the Trump campaign with the administration without communicating it to Schiff, his Democratic Intelligence Committee counterpart.[85]

In late March 2017 Nunes canceled a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Agency Director James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan were to testify,[86] saying that he wanted to hear FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers in a classified setting first. Democrats criticized Nunes's decision and said that he was trying to protect the White House from damaging revelations.[87][88]

On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading the Russia investigation while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated whether he had "made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct" [89] in his March press conference.[3] He called the charges "entirely false and politically motivated".[4] On April 12, 2017, sources from both the Republican and Democratic parties said that the original documents Nunes cited did not support Trump's claims that the Obama administration acted illegally or unusually.[90]

In May 2017 Nunes unilaterally issued three subpoenas seeking documents about former Obama administration officials who requested the unmasking of Trump aides, which led to renewed accusations of colluding with the White House to undercut the Russia probe.[91]

According to Politico, in July 2017 an aide to Nunes secretly sent a pair of Republican staffers to London to contact Christopher Steele.[92][93] The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote that Nunes' involvement in the investigation was "threatening the credibility of the probe".[94]

In December 2017 the United States House Committee on Ethics closed its investigation into improper disclosure of classified information by Nunes; the co-chairs of the Committee stated: "The Committee does not determine whether information is or is not classified. In the course of this investigation, the Committee sought the analysis of Representative Nunes's statements by classification experts in the intelligence community. Based solely on the conclusion of these classification experts that the information that Representative Nunes disclosed was not classified, the Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed."[5] In January 2018 The Atlantic cited three congressional sources describing that the Ethics Committee was never able to obtain the classified information that it was investigating regarding Nunes's case.[95] Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe nevertheless resigned due in part to the Nunes memo, which Trump said "vindicated" him.[96][97][98]

In August 2018 Nunes traveled to London in an attempt to meet with the heads of MI5, MI6, and GCHQ for information about Steele, but was rebuffed by the three agencies.[99][100]

Defamation lawsuits

On March 18, 2019, Nunes filed a defamation lawsuit against Twitter, Liz Mair, Mair Strategies LLC, and the Twitter accounts "Devin Nunes' Mom" (@DevinNunesMom) and "Devin Nunes' Cow" (@DevinCow), seeking $250 million in damages.[101]

As the story went viral, the popularity of the defendants' accounts soared, gaining more followers than Nunes's own account.[102] One observer cited this as an example of the Streisand Effect.[103]

The public response included a summary by Brad Heath, DC Justice and Investigations Editor for USA Today, who wrote, "Rep Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is suing Twitter because a fake cow was mean to him on the internet. (He's also suing the fake cow.)"[104] Numerous others mocked Nunes on the Internet.[105]

Other commentators noted the irony that Nunes previously co-sponsored the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act,[102][106] with the Editorial Board of The Washington Post considering the suit "part of a dangerous trend".[107]

In April 2019 Nunes filed a separate defamation lawsuit against his hometown newspaper, The Fresno Bee, in reference to a May 2018 article titled "A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event"[108][109] that Nunes claimed was "character assassination".[108] The article details a lawsuit lodged by a former employee of the Alpha Omega Winery (of which Nunes is a part owner) who attended a 2015 fundraiser yacht cruise alongside investors from the company, and allegedly witnessed attendees doing cocaine and soliciting underage prostitutes.[108]

The lawsuit also inspired the Twitter hashtag #YachtCocaineProstitutes, which became the top trending topic on Twitter.[108]

Personal life

The Nunes family is of Portuguese descent, immigrating from the Azores to California in the early 20th century.[14] Nunes wrote a foreword to the 1951 novel Home Is An Island by Portuguese-American author Alfred Lewis for the 2012 edition by Tagus Press, an imprint of the Center for Portuguese Culture and Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.[110]

Nunes married Elizabeth Nunes (née Tamariz), an elementary school teacher, in 2003. They have three daughters.[10]

Honors

Nunes has been awarded the following foreign honors:

See also

References

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  4. ^ a b c Rebecca Shabad (April 6, 2017). "Devin Nunes recuses himself from Russia probe". CBS News. Retrieved 2017. The House Committee on Ethics confirmed in a statement Thursday morning that it is "investigating and gathering more information" on "public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information."
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  42. ^ H.R. 6484 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for reporting and disclosure by State and local public employee retirement pension plans. December 2, 2010, as introduced. Archived December 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
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External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Thomas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st congressional district

2003-2013
Succeeded by
David Valadao
Preceded by
Kevin McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

2013-present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Mike Rogers
Chair of the House Intelligence Committee
2015-2019
Succeeded by
Adam Schiff
Preceded by
Adam Schiff
Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee
2019-present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Steve King
United States Representatives by seniority
80th
Succeeded by
Mike Rogers

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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