Politics & Policy

NRPLUS Conference Call with Devin Nunes and Rich Lowry

(NRO Illustration: Elijah Smith)

Yesterday morning, NR editor in chief Rich Lowry spoke with Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, to members of the NRPLUS group on a private conference call. The pair discussed the congressman’s work on the committee and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, and Rich spoke about the controversy surrounding an incident between high-school students and a Native American activist at the March for Life this past weekend.

Rich started the call by discussing the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump after the firing of former FBI director James Comey. Nunes explained that it’s preposterous, another fake-news bombshell like the BuzzFeed report that Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie under oath. The FBI was investigating then-candidate Trump and then continued to investigate him as president. Their motivation? Nunes says it’s hard to know where the Clinton-run operation via Fusion GPS and the FBI merged, as the Clinton operation was actively looking to feed and seed information into the FBI.

Rich and Representative Nunes then moved on to what steps House Republicans can take to continue investigations and figure out what exactly the FBI did. Nunes pushed back against the “misnomer” that when the Democrats take control, the Republicans’ investigations end. As members of Congress, the Republicans can continue their inquiries. The two challenges, however, are that the Republicans don’t have subpoena authority and that Nunes can’t call a hearing and compel people to testify. Most of the people that he needed to interview were interviewed, however, so the bottom line? “Our investigation is not over, just more complicated,” he said.

Next, Representative Nunes took some questions from users about the FISA warrants and Rod Rosenstein. Nunes explained that the House power to force people to comply with subpoenas is too weak. The House used to be able to pick people up through federal marshals, and that hasn’t been done since the late 1800s. So how is the House to force people to comply with the subpoena?

One user asked when Nunes thinks the special counsel’s investigation will end, and his answer was pretty simple: “I don’t believe it will ever end until it’s forced to end.” Americans haven’t heard much from Mueller, besides his office’s response to the BuzzFeed story. Journalists guess at when the investigation will end, but the reality, Nunes explained, is that we can’t know until the new attorney general gets his eyes on it.

Rich pivoted a bit to ask the congressman’s expectation about how the shutdown will be resolved. Representative Nunes thinks there won’t be any movement until there’s some political pressure on the Democrats. If House speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t give in, which is looking more likely, Trump will have to declare a national emergency to build the wall. In Nunes’s opinion, almost 50 percent of the freshman class in Congress is from the socialist wing of the Democratic party, which will pose additional challenges going forward.

After taking a few more user questions, Nunes had to leave, due to an unexpected committee obligation. Rich filled out the remainder of the time discussing the incident involving students from Covington Catholic High School and a Native American activist at the March for Life. He took questions and responded to comments that were made on the NRPLUS Facebook group during the past few days.

A recording of the call is above. Thank you to those who joined us, and we look forward to seeing you all for the next one.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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