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The genius of the American political system is the separation of powers among three co-equal arms of the government– executive / President, White House. Legislature; House of Representatives and Senate (Congress) and Judiciary, the Courts. The three arms act as a check for each other to prevent one side from overreaching, hence the term checks and balances.

It is because of these checks and balances that while the president wields veto power over legislation he does not agree with, Congress carries the powers to make laws and at the same time carries a veto override power whenever they feel the president’s veto is not appropriate. And in case of legal disagreement between the executive and legislature, or with aggrieved citizens the courts at various levels come into play to interpret laws and settle disputes.

But today Congressman Devin Nunes of California gave us a visual of what it looks when there is a breakdown in the separation of powers among the three arms of the federal government and how that can undermine checks and balances. Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, charged with investigating allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to defeat their Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Nunes held a press conference and attempted to give credibility to President Donald Trump tweet that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. In the press conference Nunes alleged that he had seen documents that showed legal surveillance of Trump Tower, but he did not give any information to support Trump’s allegations against Obama. Nunes did not demonstrate much intelligence or independence, he acted like a Trump lapdog. He subjected himself as a subordinate and surrogate of the White House and appeared to be providing a cover-up for the Trump White House.

In several press conferences, Nunes claimed he has received information that proves the Trump campaign was actually monitored when Obama was still in charge. In his haste to validate Trump’s inane tweets, Nunes may have in fact confirmed that Trump and his campaign were engaged in communication with foreigners, who were of interest to the American intelligence community. That by itself is troubling. Who were they talking to and why are they keeping those contacts secret? Is Trump and his associates part of some criminal ring?

Amazingly, Nunes who has railed against leaks, did not seem to mind using information from a leaked document to make his case. And he did a horrible job. In fact when he was asked whether his source was the Trump administration, he could not deny and instead pretended to be a big boy in control and said his committee will never disclose its source of information.

His non-answer answer left the impression that the Trump administration could indeed have been the source of his revelation and all he was doing was just pretending to have a higher source. His story kept changing, at some point stating that the surveillance was legal and also affirming that Trump did in fact lie when he tweeted that Obama illegally wiretapped him. He  did not provide any evidence but he made it sound as if the documents he received were definitively bad and at the same time paradoxically harmless routine intelligence documents.

If you are confused, you’re not alone. This guy is confused and confusing.  And his press conference should be graded an A-Plus if sowing confusion was the goal. But let’s not forget the connection Nunes has with the Trump campaign. In a Feb. 24, report, Washington Post revealed that Nunes and his Republican counterpart in the Senate Richard Burr, were recruited by the Trump White House to help in their misinformation campaign to counter stories about Trump’s ties with Russia. Nunes, in fact, acted on that request and was quoted in a Feb 27 report in the Washington Post where he stated he had not found any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and that he was more interested in finding out the source of the information leaks which he called “major crimes” than Trump’s connection with Russian officials.

That’s the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in the United States for you. God Bless America. His performance warrants a big reward and it would be very rude if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not put in high gear plans to award him the honor of Russian Order of Friendship, just like he did for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The question is why did he run so fast to tell Trump about this?

Nunes said he thought Trump, a subject of his investigation, needed to know the intelligence gathered inappropriately unmasked US citizens associated with him. Unmasking is the revelation of the identity of an American citizen caught during the surveillance of foreign individuals. He shared the information with Speaker Paul Ryan and other people but ironically he did not see the need of sharing the information with his committee or his counterpart in the committee Adam Schiff, Democratic Congressman also from California.

It’s puzzling that Nunes choose to share the information with Ryan and not his committee. This raises the question whether Nunes was acting on Ryan’s instructions. But we will leave this fact alone and revisit it another time.

To put it in context, Nunes essentially tipped off the suspect of an espionage investigation and showed them the evidence and imperiling the work of his committee. Nunes acted like a bad prison guard, who is a go-between for a prisoner and his underworld gang. Please feel free to add any more analogies.

Schiff, a ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, clearly a man of superior cognition and intellect between the two leaders, did not take Nunes’ actions kindly. He said Nunes’ actions undermines the committee’s integrity and makes a good case for the appointment of a special prosecutor. “The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians or he can act as the surrogate of the White House because he cannot do both,” Schiff said.

This action proved Nunes doesn’t know the first thing about investigating — never contact the subject of your investigation in a private capacity because it taints the integrity of the investigation. But this investigation was flawed from the start. Nunes was a member of Trump’s Transition Committee and he comes to the table with an asterix next to his leadership. His independence as a leader of a committee that is investigating a transition team that he was a part of is laughable and does not sound like an environment where credible investigation can take place and bring out credible findings.

By running to tell Trump information about an investigation that possibly implicates him, Nunes showed that he cannot be relied upon to keep anything about the investigation secret from the Trump White House for the sake of national security. Nunes, like the Speaker of the House House Paul Ryan, seem to have sacrificed their principles, integrity and country at the feet of Trump.

It’s time for Nunes and Republicans to put the country first and stop blocking investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 Presidential elections. What Nunes did was crazy. There is nothing honorable about it. It’s time to disband the committee hearing and bring in a special prosecutor to effectively and objectively investigate the Trump campaign.


Nunes met the source of his information at the White House grounds. He has refused to disclose the identity of the source, but he has stated that it’s a member of the Intelligence Community. Calls for him to resign or recuse himself are intensifying, but Ryan, who has the power to fire Nunes has said he should not resign.

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