While Republicans are figuring out their new governing role, liberal Democrats are quietly winning small victories with their “all resistance all the time” approach.
Their takedown of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is just one example of how liberals have been able to game the current congressional structure to get results. Left-wing groups such as MoveOn.org submitted a complaint to the Office on Congressional Ethics — the same office created by ex-Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in 2008 — asking whether Mr. Nunes disclosed any classified information.
MoveOn.org stated that Mr. Nunes may have “violated the Espionage Act and the rules of the House by disclosing classified information without the authorization required by House Rules or any other proper authorization.” These are serious allegations, designed to destroy Mr. Nunes’ reputation and his ability to lead the House probe into Russian hacking and Obama administration snooping in the 2016 election.
Recall that at the beginning of this congressional session, Republicans tried to reform the OCE, but received significant backlash from the Democrats and even President Trump. The OCE is meant to be an independent committee where any individual or group can submit a complaint to this ethics committee on a member of Congress. This opens the floodgates for politically motivated groups to go after specific lawmakers.
This time, liberals targeted Mr. Nunes. The ethics complaint came just days after the revelation that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice asked for the names of Trump campaign officials redacted in U.S. intelligence surveillance reports. Serious questions were raised about her “unmasking,” yet some liberal media outlets called it a “fake scandal.” Liberal pundit David Corn argued that Ms. Rice’s unmasking controversy was purely a “racist and sexist” move by the GOP.
In stepping aside, Mr. Nunes made a tough decision, not wanting his fellow congressional members to have to deal with the fallout of what has become a politically toxic topic. In his statement, Mr. Nunes called the charges “entirely false and politically motivated,” adding that they were “being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power.”
Moments after Mr. Nunes made his announcement, California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel, gleefully spoke at a news conference about how he agreed with Mr. Nunes’ decision. Yet Mr. Schiff himself is guilty of providing conclusions without finishing the investigation.
On MSNBC, for example, Mr. Schiff talked about “circumstantial evidence” regarding the collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign — without waiting for the final findings of the investigations. The questions surrounding Ms. Rice were another “distraction” from the Russian probe, Mr. Schiff contended.
The correct answer would have been that the House Intelligence Committee should investigate. His actions and words were irresponsible, and Mr. Schiff, not Mr. Nunes, is the one who should consider recusing himself.
• Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.