Email #126: “serious concerns”

The House Committee on Ethics announced last Thursday:

“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct… The Committee has determined to investigate these allegations in order to fulfill its institutional obligation … to investigate certain allegations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, and to determine if there has been any violation of the Code of Official Conduct…”

House Intelligence Committee Chair Nunes, because he is being investigated for disclosing classified information and because he was involved in the Trump transition team, has also recused himself from leading the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Like Speaker Ryan, “I fully support his decision.” I assume you also support Rep. Nune’s decision—especially since the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a federal crime, one that you recently wrote to the Justice Department about. Your letter of February 15 expressed “serious concerns” over news reports about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn that “may come from classified intelligence products.”

You must then have equally serious concerns regarding Rep. Nunes. In the case of Flynn, the news reports resulted in his resigning after the public became aware of his lying to Vice-President Pence about his communications with Russia—the same investigation issue that Rep. Nunes has recused himself, and which General Attorney Sessions has also recused himself. You spoke flatteringly of Sessions’ decision:

“Attorney General Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself. Attorney General Sessions is an honorable man who believes in preserving the integrity of the justice system. I applaud his decision to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in order to ensure the American people have confidence in our justice system.”

Although you then took it as yet another opportunity draw a negative contrast to score a cheap and contextually meaningless political point:

“Attorney General Sessions’ admirable decision stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, who met with former President Bill Clinton, the husband of the target of an FBI investigation, while the investigation was ongoing. Attorney General Sessions should be commended for his commitment to ensuring the Justice Department is above reproach.”

Although the Trump campaign attempted to make much of Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton during the election, your allusion to it now seems gratuitous if not desperate. It also pales in comparison to Attorney General Sessions’ apparent perjury during his Senate confirmation hearing regarding his communications with Russia during the election–an issue you have not pursued despite your dogged oversight of the executive branch during Obama’s second term.

I very much look forward to your next press release expressing your opinion of Rep. Nunes’ decision to recuse himself and the Ethics Committee’s investigation into his criminal disclosure of classified information.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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