Hometown paper slams Nunes' attempts to 'spread lies' about impeachment

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The Sacramento Bee accused Nunes this week of defending Trump during the impeachment inquiry, all while 'sitting on' crucial evidence allegedly implicating himself in the matter.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) lied about his involvement in Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal and betrayed the people of California, the Sacramento Bee claimed in an editorial on Monday.

Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee during Trump's impeachment inquiry, "faces explosive allegations that he and his staff contacted shadowy Ukrainian figures in an effort to betray American democracy," the editorial board wrote.

"For months, Nunes has acted as Trump’s attack dog, defending the president from accusations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden," they added. "Nunes sat in House Intelligence Committee meetings and derided the impeachment proceedings against Trump as a 'hoax.' Yet he was sitting on a ticking time bomb the entire time."

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The board was referencing a trove of new evidence released last week by the House Intelligence Committee, including text messages that showed a top Nunes staffer in close contact with Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow earlier this month, Parnas said he was "in shock" when he saw Nunes at the impeachment hearings defending Trump, because he claimed Nunes and his staffer "were involved in getting all this stuff on" former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and "knew very well" what was going on.

The House impeached Trump last month for both abuse of power and obstruction of justice related to allegations that he and his allies pressured Ukraine to open politically motivated investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

Nunes claimed back in December that, despite call logs produced during the inquiry that showed phone conversations between himself and Parnas, he did not recall ever speaking with him.

The California lawmaker amended those remarks last week after encrypted WhatsApp messages between his staffer, Derek Harvey, and Parnas were released showing Parnas providing Harvey with documents and setting up meetings between Harvey and Ukrainians officials who had made baseless claims about Biden and his son.

Nunes said he had in fact spoken to Parnas himself and remembered their conversation was odd. He excused his earlier claim that the two had not spoken saying he previously "didn't know the name — this name Parnas."

The editorial board at the Sacramento Bee excoriated that explanation this week.

"We doubt any regular constituent from Nunes' district would have much luck getting the congressman on the phone. Yet some 'random' businessman with Ukraine connections had no trouble reaching Nunes on his cell," the board wrote, noting Nunes "hasn’t held a town hall with his constituents in years."

The board then accused Nunes of "us[ing] his position in Congress as a platform to spread lies and mislead the public."

"Regardless of whether you lean Democratic or Republican, here's an undeniable fact: Nunes lied," they wrote.

They added, "The people of California's 22nd congressional district deserve better."

Nunes has had an unpleasant relationship with newspapers in his home state over the past several years. The Fresno Bee had endorsed him for 16 years — from 2002 through 2016 — before endorsing his opponent in 2018. During that election, Nunes' campaign put together a 40-page glossy magazine to attack the Fresno Bee, accusing the paper of being a "propaganda machine."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.