- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2017

So Rep. Devin Nunes stepped away from his leading role of his House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in America’s 2016 election, saying the many ethics complaints that had been filed against him would prove too distracting.

How nice. He’s taking one for the team, so to speak — stepping aside, moving along, making way, taking the higher ground, blah blah and blather blah. It’s all political misstepping. His only reaction to the ethics complaints filed by the far left activist groups bent on taking down the Republican Party and taking out President Donald Trump from the White House should’ve been this: Bite. Me.

You think Democrats, facing similar politically partisan witchhunt, would’ve folded so gracefully? Heck, no. The only time Democrats go diplomatic is when they’re forging deals with the enemy — cutting contracts for nukes with Iran, for example, or begging the Islamic Revolutionary Guards to release wrongfully captured U.S. sailors.

But on Capitol Hill?

It’s Ye Olde ‘No Deal’ Democrats, front and center. Republicans need to steal a page or two of that playbook — heck, steal the whole playbook, in fact. Go on, grab it.

Because the optics of Nunes stepping away from his lead role in Russia-U.S. election investigation is this: He looks, from outside the Beltway, like a caver. Like he couldn’t take the heat so he cut and run.

And that makes the Republicans, once again, look like the party of weak — the party of cowering concession. It’s a particularly galling look for the GOP to wear right now because — and listen close, this is important — Republicans hold all the cards. So why run?

“Several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Nunes said, in a statement about his step-down. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated and are 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.”

He also said Rep. Mike Conway, along with Reps. Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, will “temporarily” lead the committee forward on its investigation of Russia — leaving open the door that after the Ethics Committee was finished, he could return to take the helm.

Yes, yes, all well and good. But look who the complainants are: MoveOn.org. Democracy 21. Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington. Could they be any more left-leaning? They’re alleging in their filings to the supposed nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics that Nunes wrongfully released classified information while speaking out publicly about the Trump surveillance matter.

OK. But Nunes, under fire, should have returned fire and said: Bite me — I ain’t going anywhere.

No matter what reason he gives for stepping aside, the optics are that he caved to Democratic pressure. And on the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions doing the same — stepping away from any leadership role in investigations about Russia shenanigans in the recent U.S. election, due once again to Democratic crying — the overall message getting through to voters is this: Republicans may hold the majority — all the majorities, in fact, in the House, Senate and White House.

But it’s Democrats who are still in charge.

It’s the Democrats who seem still in control.

And that message, for a country fed up with the bullying of progressive-socialist loud-mouths who’ve done nothing but tear down the Founding Father greatness of our country, is only going to bring out the anger of the conservative base. Remember: It’s not just Democrats who face races in 2018.

Republicans need to stand up, stand strong, and stand firm in the face of Democratic onslaught. Be bold. Be brash even. And stop trying to bring a gentleman’s mentality into a bloodbath of partisan politicking. The strategy won’t win.

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