Devin NunesDevin Nunes served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, an agriculturally rich area that Nunes calls “the breadbasket of the solar system” and “a garden of Eden.” He was the Republican leader and former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, and the Republican leader of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. One of the most prominent Republicans in America, Nunes was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, in 2021.
In his role on the Intelligence Committee, Nunes spent extensive time overseas working with U.S. military personnel, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials, and world leaders while promoting freedom and democratic values in war zones, the Middle East, and former Communist countries. For his efforts at strengthening NATO cooperation and the security of the western alliance, he was awarded the Order of Prince Henry by the Government of Portugal and the Order of the Star of Romania by the Government of Romania.
Nunes was one of Congress’ foremost critics of the San Joaquin Valley water crisis, having exposed the disaster as a “man-made drought” caused by government decrees that force water to be dumped in the ocean and wasted. His years-long work on the issue led to President Trump signing two executive orders to restore water to the Valley.
Nunes was a vital contributor to the Republicans’ 2017 tax system overhaul, authoring a key provision to allow same-year expensing of all business investments for entrepreneurs and businesses. He also championed telemedicine to improve healthcare in underserved, rural areas.
Many Republicans and pundits regarded Nunes as the House of Representative’s preeminent investigator of government malfeasance and corruption. In early 2017 he became the first member of Congress to reveal publicly there was no intelligence or evidence to support allegations that President Trump or his associates had colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential elections. Leading an extensive investigation that pried information from intelligence leaders, Nunes showed that corrupt federal officials had committed numerous severe abuses in their collusion investigations, causing Nunes to file multiple criminal referrals with the Department of Justice. He further discovered that it was the Democrats—not Trump associates—who had colluded with Russia, because the Democrats had funded the Steele dossier. A discredited collection of false allegations against Trump, the dossier relied on information provided by a Russian national, and the FBI was warned by its own sources that its content included Russian disinformation.
An outspoken anti-Communist, Nunes frequently denounces socialist tendencies in the Democratic Party. He is also a vehement critic of the mainstream media and Big Tech companies for suppressing conservatives and acting as a propaganda tool for the Democrats. He is the author of Countdown to Socialism, which details how the media, Democrats, and Big Tech collude to promote Democratic views, and Restoring the Republic, which proposes free-market solutions to America’s challenges.
Nunes was born on October 1, 1973, in Tulare, California, and still lives there with his wife and their three daughters. His family is of Azorean descent, having emigrated to California from São Jorge and Pico—part of the Azores islands, which are an autonomous archipelago of Portugal.
Nunes graduated from Tulare Union High School. He is the second Member of Congress to attend Tulare Union, following Olympic gold medalist Bob Mathias, who served in the House of Representatives from 1967 to 1975. After associate's work at College of the Sequoias, Nunes graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and a master’s degree in agriculture.
Nunes was first elected to public office as one of California’s youngest community college trustees in state history at the age of 23. As a member of the College of the Sequoias Board from 1996 to 2002, he was an advocate for distance learning and the expansion of programs available to high school students. 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. He left this post to run for California’s 21st congressional district and began serving his first term in the House of Representatives in 2003. As a result of redistricting in 2010, he later represented the 22nd district, which is in the San Joaquin Valley and includes portions of Tulare and Fresno Counties. After the election of President Trump in 2016, Nunes served on the Trump transition team.
Nunes served on two of the most powerful committees in Congress: the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the intelligence operations of seventeen federal agencies and departments, and the Ways and Means Committee, whose jurisdiction includes healthcare, trade, taxes, and social security.
Comments on Nunes
Nunes’ conservative record in Congress, and particularly his work to expose the Russia collusion hoax and associated abuses within the Intelligence Community, have garnered praise from conservative commentators and activists.
Rush Limbaugh : “This report [the December 2019 Inspector General report on FISA abuse] verifies everything Devin Nunes uncovered about the FISA court, about the FISA warrant application process, everything Devin Nunes uncovered about the FBI using informants like Stefan Halper to try to corrupt and create contact with Russia from inside the Trump campaign. Devin Nunes has been validated in pretty much everything he claimed to have found and documented.”
Mark Levin, radio talk show host: “Rep. Nunes’s dedication to the truth is how we know the [Democratic National Committee] was involved with the dirty FBI dossier on Trump.”
Sean Hannity, Fox News talk show host: “What you did is to help this democratic republic survive. I actually worry about this abuse of power. I worry about a corrupt media. . . . Thank you for all you’ve done, Mr. Chairman.”
Dan Bongino, radio and Fox News talk show host: “You put your butt on the line to expose what I believe – and I think you’d concur – is probably the biggest political scandal of our time. And, you know, TIME had this Person of the Year. . . . I said, ‘No, no, this is serious, let’s make Congressman Nunes our Person of the Year.’”
Kim Strassel, Wall Street Journal columnist: “Mr. Nunes has been feeling even more heat in Washington, where as chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence he has labored to unearth the truth about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s activities during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Thanks in large part to his work, we now know that the FBI used informants against Donald Trump’s campaign, that it obtained surveillance warrants based on opposition research conducted for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and that after the election Obama administration officials ‘unmasked’ and monitored the incoming team.”
Paulo Portas, former Deputy Prime Minister of Portugal: “[Devin Nunes is] one of the eight most influential statesmen [in America].”
Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner: “Devin Nunes vindicated – again. . . . Just as with the dossier, he was right to point out unmasking. And as always, he's prepared to be denounced again.”
Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the Federalist: “At a time when anybody in D.C. who fought the Russia collusion hoax was hammered and attacked, Nunes went out and pushed for the truth. He did it willingly and refused to quit. He also refused to give in to his many attackers, despite their relentless barrage.”
Victor Davis Hanson, author and classicist at Stanford University: “The mainstream media has caricatured Nunes’ bulldog bluntness in going public as naive and partisan, and they have predicted his demise as a committee chairman amid a climate of hysteria. Instead, Nunes seems unconcerned and plows straight ahead — in the fashion of dairy farmers from the Central Valley of California.”
Chris Buskirk, editor and publisher of American Greatness: “So, when you hear stories about people who stood up for the truth in the face of a braying mob, know that it’s not just something that happens in fiction or in long-ago history. Remember that Devin Nunes stood in the breech and that he deserves the praise of a grateful nation. . . . And thank God for Devin Nunes: patriot, hero, defender of the republic.”
Wall Street Journal op-ed board: “Americans first learned about the FBI’s abuse of the FISA process in a February 2018 memo from then House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes. . . . but Mr. Schiff and Democrats called the Nunes memo false and weeks later released a rival summary of the classified FISA evidence. Now the IG has settled the debate by confirming the details in the Nunes memo and exposing Mr. Schiff’s untruths.”
Fred Barnes, former executive editor of the Weekly Standard: “But here’s why we should be grateful to Nunes and wise members of the intelligence committee like Chris Stewart from Salt Lake City. We wouldn’t know these things if they hadn’t dug them up. (1) Hillary and the DNC paid for the still-unverified Steele dossier from his Russian sources. (2) The Steele dossier was largely responsible for approval of the Page wiretap. Well worth knowing, don’t you think?”
Ric Grenell, former Acting Director of National Intelligence: “Devin Nunes was the hero in the forest. He was alone, he was mocked, he was attacked.”
Maria Bartiromo, Fox News and Fox Business talk show host: “You need to be taking a victory lap. I know better than anybody, because we did this every Sunday on my Sunday Morning Futures program on Fox News, how you came out for two years and said, ‘Maria, this is not true, this is a lie, this is what really happened.’ And you educated our viewers, so thank you for that.”
Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives: “The person who’s vindicated in all this is Devin Nunes. . . . From the very beginning he came forward, and what they do, they went after him so strong to get him — tried to remove him from that committee. Devin was right on his report from the very beginning.”
Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government: “Devin Nunes continues to be perhaps the most influential lawmaker in the fight against abuses by the nation’s intelligence community and Justice Department. . . . Nunes’ unwavering pursuit of the truth no matter the powerful opposition he faces is a true profile in courage.”
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives: “[Nunes is] doing so many different things for the country and [is] such an amazing leader.”
California Water Crisis
Nunes’ long-standing priority in Congress was to end the devastating drought in California’s San Joaquin Valley. He argued that the decades-long water crisis in the Valley—whose farms produce a quarter of America’s food supply—does not stem from a lack of rainfall, since the state’s water infrastructure was designed to withstand five years of drought. Instead, a series of congressional bills, administrative actions, and court decisions—often resulting from lawsuits filed by extremist environmental groups—severely restricted water pumping and forced trillions of gallons of water to be flushed out to the Pacific Ocean and wasted. Meanwhile, other regulations and bureaucratic obstructions have stifled attempts to build more water storage projects. The entire crisis, explained Nunes, stems from a coordinated plan by radical environmental organizations to remove 1.3 million acres of farmland from production.
Nunes brought national attention to the water crisis and particularly the Delta smelt—a three-inch baitfish for whose benefit some of the most damaging water restrictions were enacted. In a 2009 hearing of the Natural Resources Committee, he testified next to a fishbowl with live smelt. Later in 2009 he helped to organize a water rally attended by several thousand people at a farm near Huron, from where Sean Hannity broadcasted live to increase awareness of the water crisis. In 2015 Nunes was featured in Dead Harvest, a documentary about the devastating toll the crisis has taken on San Joaquin Valley families and farmers.
One key element in the California water crisis is a deficiency in water storage, meaning that even in years with heavy rainfall, the state cannot capture and store enough water to guarantee full water supplies in dry years. To mitigate the problem, in 2003 Nunes pushed through Congress the initial feasibility study for the construction of Temperance Flat Dam, which would create 1.3 million acre-feet of water storage capacity by building California’s second-largest dam at Millerton Lake. The project was effectively killed in 2018, when the California Water Commission refused to allocate the necessary funds for its construction.
In 2011 Nunes introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, the first House-passed bill that would restore the San Joaquin Valley’s water supply. That legislation and many succeeding House-passed water bills, however, were killed by a lack of Democratic support in the Senate.
In large part thanks to Nunes’ work, in 2018 President Trump signed a presidential memorandum to streamline and speed up the review and approval process for federal water infrastructure. In his signing ceremony for the memorandum, President Trump recounted how Nunes had first explained the causes of the water crisis to him as they travelled together through the San Joaquin Valley.
In 2020, President Trump signed an executive order approving new biological opinions that underlay the water pumping restrictions. Although the new biological opinions would resolve much of the water crisis, their enactment was halted by court challenges filed by environmental organizations as well as the State of California under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom.
Bin Laden Documents
Nunes joined the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2011. One of his priorities was to force the Obama Administration to declassify and publicly release the bin Laden documents—a trove of hundreds of thousands of files seized by U.S. special forces during the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. Although the documents had immense intelligence value for understanding the al Qaeda network, the Obama Administration suppressed the publication and even the analysis of the files.
Amplified by submissive media outlets, the Obama Administration had been touting its success in fighting al Qaeda, claiming the network was decimated, its leaders were on the run, that bin Laden was an isolated, largely powerless figurehead by the time he was killed, and that al Qaeda was not cooperating with Iran. The bin Laden documents, however, proved that the administration’s narrative was false—in fact, bin Laden had remained firmly in control, the al Qaeda network was cohesive, and the Iranian regime often facilitated the arming, financing, and training of al Qaeda members as well as their travel through Iran.
After visiting CENTCOM headquarters in 2013 to gather information about the exploitation of the bin Laden documents, Nunes added language in the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2014 requiring further declassifications of the documents, resulting in the public release of 571 additional files. Eventually, in 2017, the Trump Administration released a massive trove of 470,000 files from the collection. The release, explained New York Times terrorism reporter Rukmini Callimachi, sharply contradicted the Obama Administration’s portrayal of al Qaeda.
The Obama Administration’s dishonest handling of the bin Laden files was similar to its response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans. Once again, in order to preserve a false narrative that al Qaeda was all but inoperable, the administration mischaracterized the assault as a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam Internet video.
In fact, as the administration later acknowledged, the Benghazi attack was a pre-planned, coordinated assault waged by Ansar al-Sharia and other al Qaeda-linked terror groups. When State Department whistleblower Greg Hicks—Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the attack—began telling investigators that the administration’s narrative of a spontaneous attack was transparently false, Hillary Clinton confidants berated him for meeting with congressional investigators, and he was later demoted.
Lacking confidence in the Obama Administration’s account of the Benghazi attack, Nunes joined other House Intelligence Committee Republicans in opposing the conclusions of their own committee’s Benghazi report, which included numerous omissions, mistakes, and investigative shortcomings. Instead, Nunes supported the creation of a select committee to investigate the attack, which was ultimately convened under the chairmanship of Congressman Trey Gowdy.
In early 2017, whistleblowers informed Nunes, then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that Obama Administration officials had unmasked Trump associates in intelligence reports. “Unmasking” is the process in which an official asks to see the name of a U.S. citizen or U.S. entity that, in order to protect the citizen’s privacy and civil rights, is omitted from an intelligence report. A person who is unmasked has often been subject to “incidental surveillance,” meaning the government intercepted his communications while targeting some other suspect.
Essentially, these people’s names are so sensitive that they’re hidden from Intelligence Community members themselves. That’s because these American citizens are not investigation targets, and authorities cannot surveil them without a warrant. Intelligence analysts can have good reason to unmask a name—for example, they may need to see who the individual is in order to understand the context of what their surveillance target is saying. Line analysts and investigators typically have the most justification for unmasking names. Top level officials and political appointees usually have less justification, since they focus on broader policies, not investigating specific cases.
Nunes was concerned by the reports he was receiving of Obama officials unmasking Trump associates, which could be a form of spying on political opponents. He was also disturbed after seeing media stories that included classified information that could have been gained through unmaskings. On March 5, 2017, Nunes announced that the Intelligence Committee would make inquiries into whether the government was surveilling any political party’s campaign or associates. On March 15, Nunes said there was no evidence to support President Trump’s allegation that Trump Tower had been wiretapped, but that the Trump campaign may have been subject to other forms of surveillance. Also on March 15, he sent a letter to the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency (NSA) asking for details on the unmasking of U.S. citizens and “whether information collected on U.S. persons was mishandled and leaked.”
Whistleblowers eventually identified to Nunes the location where he could access classified files documenting the unmasking of Trump officials—they were held in a Sensitive Compartment Information Facility (SCIF) at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to the White House. On March 21, Nunes visited the SCIF and read the files. Although Intelligence Committee Democrats concocted a false story—widely spread by the media—that Nunes had gone on a “midnight run” in which he jumped in and out of cars and sneaked into the SCIF in the middle of the night to see the documents, Nunes revealed that it was actually a routine, day-time visit to the building, during which he openly spoke to foreign dignitaries.
On March 22, Nunes briefed Speaker Paul Ryan on the unmaskings and later went to the White House to brief President Trump and other officials. That morning, he disclosed some of these details to reporters, including the following:
He’d confirmed that Trump transition members had repeatedly been subject to incidental collection.
The collection appeared to have been conducted legally.
Details about these Trump associates with “little or no apparent foreign intelligence value” were disseminated widely in the Intelligence Community.
Additional Trump associates’ names had been unmasked.
None of the surveillance was related to Russia or the Russia investigation.
He reiterated that there was no evidence to support President Trump’s tweet that Trump Tower had been wiretapped, but he was concerned that other kinds of surveillance may have been employed against Trump’s campaign.
The media later reported that the Obama administration had indeed conducted a wide variety of surveillance on the Trump campaign, including running government informants against Trump associates, obtaining a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump advisor, and obtaining phone records through national security letters, a kind of secret subpoena.
As for unmaskings, the Wall Street Journal later reported that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power unmasked nearly 300 people even though her job had no intelligence-related function. The Journal further reported that Power claimed she did not remember unmasking former Trump Administration National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. However, Senate-released documents later showed thirty-nine Obama officials had unmasked Flynn’s name, including many without any clear cause to do so, such as White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and seven unmasking requests by Power herself.
Furthermore, when asked in April 2017 about Obama officials unmasking Trump officials, former Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice replied, “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.” Months later, however, CNN reported that Rice herself had unmasked Trump officials.
As a result of the abuse of the unmasking procedure, in January 2018 Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats issued guidance tightening unmasking rules across the Intelligence Community, enhancing accountability in the unmasking process, and approving new documentation requirements.
Russian Collusion Hoax
As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI), Nunes played a primary role in debunking the Russia collusion hoax. Initially, Nunes led HPSCI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to steal the election. Throughout the investigation, Nunes insisted there was no evidence of collusion. This contradicted the position of the committee’s then-ranking member, Democrat Adam Schiff, who claimed as early as March 22, 2017, that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion, though Schiff refused to describe the evidence.
Nunes saw indications as early as December 2016 that the collusion allegations were a false narrative spread by Democrats, elements of the Intelligence Community, and anti-Trump journalists. He also suspected that the Obama Administration’s compilation of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian election meddling would be a political exercise in which intelligence would be corrupted in order to further the collusion narrative.
On December 12, 2016, Nunes warned that HPSCI would “remain a vigilant monitor” of the Intelligence Community’s investigations into Russian election meddling and would “closely oversee” production of the ICA. On December 16, after unnamed U.S. officials leaked to the media that the CIA assessed that Russia meddled in the election in order to help Trump win, Nunes blasted Intelligence Community directors for not briefing that assessment to HPSCI. Warning that withholding information from Congress “can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes,” Nunes criticized the directors for refusing a request to brief HPSCI on their Russia investigation.
Published on January 6, 2017, the ICA included the leaked assessment of Russian intentions. This assessment was disputed by HPSCI Republicans, who investigated the ICA’s compilation and issued a referral that they’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to get declassified and made public.
In a remarkable demonstration of the ICA’s political bias and lack of integrity, the report included information from the Steele dossier as a classified annex. The dossier was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS, an opposition research company that specializes in smearing its clients’ political opponents in the media. The dossier was filled with fantastic allegations of a years-long effort by Putin to cultivate Donald Trump as a Russian asset, the Kremlin possessing sexual blackmail material against Trump, and Trump associates secretly meeting with Russian agents in Prague. These assertions became the centerpiece of countless collusion conspiracy theories.
Although there was no evidence to support any of the dossier’s collusion claims, Steele’s personal credibility was relentlessly bolstered by the media and by HPSCI Democrats. It later emerged that the sole source for Steele’s allegations was a Russian national who told the FBI the information he provided to Steele was “just talk,” “hearsay,” and even jokes he’d heard while drinking with his friends, and that Steele “misstated or exaggerated” the source’s accounts. Following congressional pressure, the Justice Department eventually declassified information showing that the FBI was warned that the Steele dossier included Russian disinformation.
In April 2017, Nunes stepped aside from leading HPSCI’s Russia investigation after the House Ethics Committee began investigating allegations by leftwing activist groups that he had disclosed classified information while discussing the unmaskings of Trump associates. In December 2017, after an eight-month long investigation, the Ethics Committee cleared Nunes of the charges.
At HPSCI, Nunes switched focus to investigate the Steele dossier. To determine who funded the dossier, he issued subpoenas for Fusion GPS’s banking records. This led to a legal battle with Fusion GPS in which the court ultimately sided with Nunes. Before the records were handed over to HPSCI, Fusion GPS leaked to the media what the records revealed—that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee had funded the dossier, laundering the payments through the law firm Perkins Coie to disguise their origin. Thus, the Steele dossier was revealed to be a purely partisan smear against the Trump campaign funded by his political opponents.
In April 2017, government leakers revealed to the media that the FBI had obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to spy on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. The story was designed to further the Russia collusion narrative, but Nunes suspected that the FBI and Department of Justice used false allegations from the Steele dossier in their warrant application to the FISC. After confirming this indeed happened, Nunes opened an investigation into abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Along with other HPSCI Republicans and staff members, Nunes detailed the improper submission of Steele dossier information to the FISC in a classified document—the “Nunes memo”—that was declassified and published on February 2, 2018. In response, on February 24 Adam Schiff and other HPSCI Democrats released the “Schiff memo,” which argued that the DOJ only made narrow use of dossier information; that this information was properly vetted and subsequently corroborated; that the DOJ fully informed the FISC about Steele’s biases and credibility; and that there were no material omissions from the FISA warrant.
Corporate media uniformly attacked the Nunes memo and praised the Schiff memo. The truth of the matter was revealed in December 2019, when DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the findings of his investigation into the FISA warrant applications on Carter Page. Identifying seventeen major errors or omissions in the warrant applications and renewals, Horowitz laid out the following findings:
Dossier information played a “central and essential role” in the decision to apply for the warrants.
“Significant information” was omitted that undercut claims made in the warrants.
Steele’s own sources contradicted information used in the warrants.
None of the dossier information on Carter Page was corroborated.
The FBI failed to reveal that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton Campaign had funded the dossier.
The FBI omitted exculpatory statements made by Carter Page, and an FBI official doctored an email to strengthen suspicion of him.
Overall, Horowitz marveled at how “so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams.” In light of Horowitz’s findings, FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer accused the FBI of misleading her court and demanded reforms to the FISA process.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board explained in detail how the Horowitz report vindicated the Nunes memo and how “Adam Schiff in particular has been exposed for distortions and falsehoods.” The Journal concluded, “Mr. Schiff had access to the same documents as Mr. Nunes. His decision to misrepresent the FBI’s actions shows he is willing to distort the truth for political purposes. He gets away with this because he has a willing echo chamber in the Washington press corps.”
Summing up his thoughts on the matter, Nunes wrote a letter to Schiff suggesting Schiff enter into a rehabilitation process.
In April 2018, HPSCI Republicans published a report on their investigation of Russian election meddling. Though heavily redacted by the Intelligence Community, the report:
Reviewed other Russian meddling activities in Europe.
Described in detail how the Russians conducted cyber-attacks and ran its malign influence campaign during the 2016 U.S. elections.
Analyzed the effectiveness of the U.S. government response to the Russian attacks.
Examined numerous collusion allegations and found no evidence of Trump associates colluding with the Russians
Detailed the flood of leaks of classified information surrounding the Russian collusion narrative and the compilation of the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment
Made twenty-six specific recommendations to improve America’s defenses against future election meddling attempts.
By contrast, HPSCI Democrats released their own report focusing almost exclusively on advancing false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.
Corporate media denounced the GOP report as a whitewash of collusion allegations. Reporters utterly ignored the significance that all seventy-three interviewed witnesses—including dozens of Trump associates as well as top intelligence and government officials such as Intelligence Community directors James Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan, and Dan Coats—admitted they had no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russians. Over a year later, when the Mueller investigation also found no evidence of collusion, mainstream reporters and commentators universally declined to revisit their comments on the HPSCI report. This was par for the course for the mainstream press, whose willful misreporting of the Russia collusion story was a central cause of the collapse of public trust in the media.
During the Russia collusion hoax, Nunes engaged in numerous battles with the FBI and the Department of Justice to overcome their stonewalling of HPSCI attempts to obtain information about the agencies’ Trump-Russia collusion investigation. Nunes repeatedly issued subpoenas to obtain records that were being withheld from the committee, even threatening to submit contempt of Congress resolutions against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. At one point, Rosenstein threatened to retaliate against the subpoenas by issuing his own subpoenas for emails and other records from HPSCI Republicans and staff members.
Despite this intransigence, Nunes obtained information on numerous abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation. In addition to information on the Steele dossier and FISA abuses, Nunes discovered the bizarre way in which then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr acted as a conduit of information from Christopher Steele to the FBI even after the FBI fired Steele as a source for leaking to the press. Nunes further discovered that Ohr’s wife had done opposition research against Trump’s family for Fusion GPS, the creator of the Steele dossier.
On September 13, 2019, Adam Schiff, having become HPSCI Chairman when the Democrats gained control of the House in January 2019, took the rare step of issuing a press release concerning a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Although such complaints are almost always handled in the strictest confidence, the complaint—pertaining to a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—became the basis of Trump’s first impeachment.
Schiff ran the impeachment investigation through HPSCI, even though impeachment is not in HPSCI’s jurisdiction and the Trump-Zelensky call did not pertain to any intelligence matters. Nunes, then serving as HPSCI ranking member, became one of the most prominent impeachment opponents in the House.
Nunes immediately saw impeachment as an information warfare operation similar to the Russian collusion hoax—a political attack on President Trump by Democrats, the media, and Intelligence Community officials. He strongly denounced Schiff after it emerged that Schiff had lied when he claimed HPSCI Democrats had not spoken directly with the whistleblower—it was later revealed that Schiff’s staff members had coordinated with the whistleblower before he filed his complaint. Following that revelation, Schiff reneged on his promise to have the whistleblower testify to HPSCI.
Nunes led HPSCI Republicans through the seven open hearings convened by Schiff in November 2019. Throughout the hearings, Nunes focused attention on the unfairness and blatant politicization of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings. He criticized the Democrats, particularly Schiff, for:
Shamelessly leaking and spinning information from witness depositions conducted behind closed doors.
Fabricating a rendition of the Trump-Zelensky phone call.
Ignoring the whistleblower’s documented partisan bias.
Negotiating with Russian pranksters, whom they believed were Ukrainian officials, to obtain naked pictures of Donald Trump.
Arrogating to themselves veto power over Republican witnesses.
Refusing to allow Republicans to call Hunter Biden as a witness or examine Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Additionally, Nunes was highly critical of then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who initially received the whistleblower complaint. Noting that Atkinson’s office had recently eliminated an exclusion on hearsay information in whistleblower complaints and then backdated the new complaint submission form, Nunes wrote repeated demands for explanations from Atkinson and vowed to refer him for investigation if he continued to stonewall HPSCI Republicans’ inquiry into the matter.
The Democrats eventually pushed impeachment through the House without a single Republican vote, and it later failed in the Senate. During debate on the House floor, Nunes summed up the Democrats’ impeachment efforts. Noting that public support for impeachment dropped during the televised House impeachment hearings, he remarked, “It’s not easy to make a coup attempt boring, but the Democrats found a way.”
Media Attacks and Lawsuits
Since Nunes first began expressing skepticism about the Russian collusion narrative, he has been subject to vehement attacks by the mainstream media, leftwing activist groups, and opposition research operatives.
Nunes is a Russia hawk, having urged the Obama administration in 2014 to more decisively counteract Russian cyber-attacks, propaganda campaigns, military belligerence, and destabilizing actions against NATO allies. Moreover, in April 2016, Nunes argued that the “biggest intelligence failure that we’ve had since 9/11” was America’s inability to predict Putin’s plans.
Nevertheless, because he contradicted the Russian collusion narrative, leftists accused Nunes of being a Putin stooge and a traitor. Most notably, in an MSNBC broadcast, analyst John Heilemann asked Democratic congressmen if Nunes is a Russian agent.
These attacks on Nunes pervaded the mainstream media after the Russia collusion hoax began spreading. The New York Times and many other major outlets published long profiles of his activities that have been revealed as error-ridden hit pieces.
Leftwing activist groups often collaborate closely with journalists in attacking Nunes. A common tactic is for political operatives to plant a false anti-Nunes story in a media outlet, then a leftwing group cites the story as the basis for filing an ethics complaint against Nunes, then the media outlet writes another story about the complaint.
The Fresno Bee, Nunes’ hometown paper and a part of the McClatchy newspaper chain, worked particularly closely with anti-Nunes smear artists. Throughout the 2018 midterm election campaign, McClatchy published a spate of stories accusing Nunes of ethical improprieties. In 2019 Fusion GPS operatives Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch revealed in their book, Crime in Progress, that they had planted these stories with McClatchy as part of a larger smear operation they waged against Nunes. McClatchy had explicitly denied working with any leftwing organizations on Nunes hit pieces, a claim Simpson and Fritsch’s book exposed as an outright lie.
McClatchy and Fusion GPS had axes to grind with Nunes due to their deep investment in the Russia collusion hoax. Fusion GPS was the architect of the Steele dossier and had unsuccessfully fought Nunes in court to forestall the revelation that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign had funded the dossier. Similarly, McClatchy published some of the most outlandish collusion stories that purported to lend credibility to the Steele dossier. Thus, with both McClatchy and Fusion GPS having a vested interest in the Russia collusion hoax in general and the Steele dossier in particular, they cooperated to try to discredit Nunes, whose revelations about the dossier undermined the collusion narrative.
The media attacks and smear operations on Nunes were so overwhelming that they bled into attacks on his family, including a political operative obtaining the work emails of Nunes’ wife—an elementary school teacher—and posting them on the Internet, with leftwing groups then citing the emails in new, frivolous ethics complaints against Nunes.
Nunes fought back against the onslaught in several ways. Becoming a vehement critic of Big Tech, he largely stopped using YouTube, Twitter, and other dominant social media platforms due to their political bias and suppression of conservatives. Nunes had personal experience with this censorship, having been part of a group of conservative congressmen whom Twitter had shadowbanned in 2018.
He included a strong critique of Big Tech in his 2020 book Countdown to Socialism. Nunes described how social media corporations and the mainstream media jointly created a “disinformation funnel” that distorts the news flow for the benefit of Democrats while suppressing conservative views. He encouraged Americans, to the greatest extent possible, to abandon Big Tech in favor of Parler, Rumble, and other alternative platforms that offer a level playing field for conservatives.
Additionally, Nunes stopped speaking to the mainstream media altogether and urged other Republicans in Congress to do the same. To counter McClatchy’s attacks, Nunes published a 40-page magazine criticizing the Fresno Bee’s bias and its coordination with leftwing activist groups.
Nunes also filed lawsuits against numerous media outlets, Big Tech companies, and political operatives for making false allegations about him or allowing false claims on social media platforms. Targets of the lawsuits included:
Twitter, for allowing cyber-stalking and the posting of death threats and numerous false claims about Nunes, while it took down far milder, factual criticism of leftwing politicians.
Hearst media group, for an Esquire story falsely claiming that Nunes conspired to hide a business venture operated by his family members in Iowa.
The Washington Post, for falsely reporting that Nunes informed then-President Trump that an intelligence official had given an exclusive briefing on Russia to Adam Schiff.
The Washington Post again, for regurgitating the false “midnight run” story related to Nunes’ March 2017 review of unmasking-related documents. The Post also falsely reported that Nunes’ investigation of unmaskings was meant to support his false claim that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. In fact, the Washington Post itself had accurately reported in 2017 that Nunes stated publicly there was no evidence Trump Tower had been wiretapped.
Fusion GPS and the leftwing group Campaign for Accountability, for conspiring against Nunes in retaliation for his work exposing the falsehoods and funding sources of the Steele dossier. The lawsuit followed revelations that Campaign for Accountability had paid Fusion GPS $139,000 in 2018, the same year Campaign for Accountability filed three frivolous ethics complaints against Nunes.
McClatchy newspaper chain, for falsely linking Nunes to a drug-fueled party on a yacht. This was one of the stories that Fusion GPS later admitted to having planted in McClatchy. The media group was ultimately protected from the lawsuit when it filed for bankruptcy.
NBC, for a false report by Rachel Maddow claiming that Nunes had received a package from a foreign operative and refused to give it to the FBI. In fact, Nunes gave the package to the FBI without opening it.
Having cut off the mainstream media and abandoned Big Tech, Nunes developed his own means to communicate directly with his constituents and with the American people. These include:
A close collaborator with Congressman Paul Ryan on Ryan’s Roadmap reforms, Nunes was one of eight cosponsors of the original Roadmap legislation, the Roadmap for America’s Future Act of 2008. The reforms proposed structural changes to entitlement programs, energy policy, the tax code, and healthcare in order to improve the operation of those programs and to reduce the federal deficit.
Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017
The Roadmap’s tax reform proposals were a basis of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Trump. Nunes contributed to the bill a key provision to allow 100 percent, same-year expensing of all operating costs and domestic investments for entrepreneurs and businesses. Eliminating complex inventory rules and depreciation schedules, the change simplified business taxes and incentivized investment and expansion. This measure was based on a previous bill introduced in the House by Nunes, the American Business Competitiveness Act.
Roadmap for America’s Energy Future
Nunes introduced this legislation in the House in 2011 to establish an all-of-the-above energy policy. The bill would open up vast new expanses to oil, gas, coal, and shale development while allocating lease and royalty revenue from fossil fuel development to a renewable energy trust fund. It also included a mandate to site 200 nuclear reactors across the country by 2040. Nunes continued to advocate for these policies throughout his congressional career. For example, in 2021 he introduced in the House the Clean Energy Protection Act, which mandates the federal government and the State of California to issue permits to continue the operation of Diablo Canyon, California’s last functioning nuclear power plant, which is slated to begin shutting down in 2024.
Passed in 2008 and signed into law, the Hubbard Act was named in honor of the Hubbard brothers of California, Jared, Nathan, and Jason. Jared and Nathan lost their lives serving in Iraq. Jason Hubbard was discharged as a sole survivor but denied separation benefits upon leaving the Army. Nunes authored the bill, which provides sole survivors numerous benefits already offered to other soldiers honorably discharged. The bill also provides that sole survivors do not have to repay any portion of their enlistment bonus, are entitled to the educational benefits of the Montgomery GI Bill, and can receive separation pay and transitional healthcare coverage.
Cybersecurity Act of 2015
As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes introduced in the House the Protecting Cyber Networks Act. The bill’s basic provisions, which allowed for increased information sharing between private companies and the U.S. government in order to combat cyberattacks, had previously been advanced in Congress by other members. A version of the bill was incorporated in other legislation and passed into law as the Cybersecurity Act of 2015.
Intelligence Authorization Act
The Intelligence Authorization Act authorizes funding every year for the seventeen departments and agencies that comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community. As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes introduced in the House the IAA bills for Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017.
Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act
In 2011 Nunes introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act to restore the water supply in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The bill passed the House—the first bill addressing the California water crisis to do so—but died in the Senate due to a lack of Democratic support. Ultimately a separate California water bill, the WIIN Act, passed Congress and was signed into law in 2016. The bill created a funding mechanism for additional California water storage and allowed more water to be pumped south of the California Delta. Additionally, President Trump signed executive orders in 2018 and 2020 to further improve the San Joaquin Valley’s water supply.
In 2003 Nunes authored a feasibility study, which was passed into law, for the construction of Temperance Flat Dam. The project would create 1.3 million acre-feet of water storage capacity by building California’s second-largest dam at Millerton Lake. The plan was effectively killed in 2018, when the California Water Commission refused to allocate the necessary funds for the dam’s construction.
Books, Film, and Public Events
Nunes is the author of the book Restoring the Republic (2010), which proposed dramatic legislative reforms in energy, taxes, immigration, entitlements, and other policy realms. He also published Countdown to Socialism (2020), which detailed how the Democratic Party, mainstream media, and Big Tech corporations cooperate to promote leftwing narratives and suppress conservative speech. Nunes is the focus of the book by investigative reporter Lee Smith The Plot Against the President, which details Nunes’ fight to expose the Russia collusion hoax. This battle was also chronicled in a documentary film based on Smith’s book. Nunes also featured in the documentary Dead Harvest, which chronicles the effects of the California water crisis on the San Joaquin Valley.
Nunes frequently traveled across the country to help elect other Republicans to Congress. Some of these trips were part of his “Freedom Tour,” in which he organized discussion panels with conservative officials, Members of Congress, and media figures. The tour grew out of Nunes’ Freedom Fest event, which attracted a crowd of 2,000 people in Tulare, California, in May 2021.
Wine MakingA long-time wine enthusiast, Nunes became a founding partner in several small California wineries and was Inducted in 2016 into Portugal’s Confraria do Vinho do Porto wine brotherhood. In 2023 his own winery, Nunes Wine Company, released its inaugural vintages consisting of three reds harvested in San Luis Obispo County on the Central Coast of California: 2021 Central Coast Red Blend Portuguese Style Wine, 2021 Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux Style Wine, and 2021 Paso Robles Red Blend Portuguese Style Wine. The winery, which was reviewed by Roger Kimball in The Spectator, provides its wines for sale online and offers club memberships as well as sign-up lists for news and information.
Awards and Honors
David and Goliath Award, Americans for Limited Government, 2020
Encounter Prize for Advancing American Ideals, Encounter Books, 2019
Defender of Freedom Award, American Conservative Union, 2018
Order of the Star of Romania, Government of Romania, 2017
Congressman of the Year, Americans for Limited Government, 2017
Order of Prince Henry, Government of Portugal, 2013