- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2018

Rep. Devin Nunes, whose investigation revealed that the Democratic Party funded the Christopher Steele dossier and that the FBI used the unverified charges to spy on a Trump volunteer, says Hollywood and George Soros are combining to try to take his congressional seat in November.

His work to reveal a competing narrative in the Trump-Russia saga has put a bull’s-eye on his back.

“Now, their attacks against me are growing stronger — extreme liberals in Hollywood, Washington D.C. and across the country have set their sights on me and may seat in Congress,” Mr. Nunes says in a new fundraising letter. “They will say and do anything to support their far-left candidate against me ….. Nancy Pelosi, George Soros and their assembly of deep-pocketed, far-left insiders are willing to spend whatever they have in order to defeat me.”

Mr. Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has become a hero to the political right for exposing Democratic ties to Kremlin disinformation against President Trump, via the dossier.

But Democrats believe the Nunes memo on alleged FBI abuses, coupled with all the negative liberal press, makes his 22nd a competitive district.

“Trump’s decision to release the Nunes Memo is a page right out of the tinpot dictator handbook,” said California Democratic chairman Eric C. Bauman. “This is an open declaration of war on the FBI and the rule of law. Nunes and Trump are lashing out like guilty men who know investigators are inching closer and closer to exposing their crimes. Devin Nunes must be held to account for his dangerous smear campaign against the FBI.”

Liberal ire is rooted in two key Nunes’ moves.

First, he spun off the Trump-Russia collusion investigation to begin almost a single-handed pursuit of the Steele dossier, its funders and how the Department of Justice used it to investigate Mr. Trump and his people.

Through bank records obtained in court from Steele handlers Fusion GPS, Mr. Nunes discovered that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided the roughly $1 million needed for the dossier operation.

After pressing DOJ for months, he obtained documents that showed the FBI cited the dossier, which was Democratic Party opposition research, to obtained a court-approved wiretap on the Trump campaign through the target, campaign volunteer Carter Page.

As Democrats objected along the way, Mr. Nunes also found out that the FBI planned to pay Mr. Steele to continue investigating Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. But the bureau fired Mr. Steele after he broke its rules and went to Mother Jones magazine in late October 2016 with his conspiracy stories. None has been verified publicly to this day.

The mainstream media generally dismissed the Nunes findings.

“In all, the release of Nunes’ partisan memo only raised more questions than it did provide any answers,” said the liberal Salon.com.

Mr. Nunes’ Democratic-riling second move was the congressman’s decision to close the Russia probe after a year.

His fundraising letter states, “After more than a year of diverted resources and slanderous attacks from the far left over alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers, we’ve reached a conclusion about collusion: there was none.”

“Instead of letting the intelligence community move on to combat the many legitimate problems and threats facing our country, the far-left Democrats refuse to let it go.”

Mr. Steele, an ex-British spy, has talked of a “massive” conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. His Kremlin sources — whose dirt was distributed by Democrats in Washington during the election — said that Mr. Trump himself supported the Russian hacking of Democratic Party computers. Mr. Trump has denied all the charges.

Mr. Nunes is so distrustful of the Washington press corps that his campaign publishes “The California Republican” website. It’s a steady stream of conservative blogs that purports to tell news stories the liberal press ignores.

During his drive to expose the dossier, a reporter shouted a question as Mr. Nunes moved down a House office building corridor. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Mr. Nunes replied, mocking The Washington Post’s new motto.

Mr. Nunes’ 22nd District is farm country, sitting north of Bakersfield in the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

Raised on a family farm and now a wine investor, Mr. Nunes is seeking his ninth term from the 21st and now the 22nd, where he has never gotten less than 60 percent of the vote in a district that is split between Latinos and whites. Mr. Trump carried the district, 52-42 percent in 2016, while Mr. Nunes won 67 percent.

His associates say his newfound status of top Democratic query has sparked a flood of campaign donations. His war chest exceeds $4 million.

Two Democrats are vying in the June primary to oppose Mr. Nunes. Democrats sense a “wave” election in November and think even Mr. Nunes’ strong showings can be reversed.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democratic, has championed the dossier and Mr. Steele. He calls Mr. Trump the worst president in modern history.

He has a long list of new witnesses and wants to re-interview a number of Trump people who have already testified. Congressional sources say he may choose to invite them for staff interviews and then leak tidbits to the press, as Democrats did scores of times during the past year.

“Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee protected President Trump at the cost of conducting a serious investigation,” Mr. Schiff said on Twitter. “We must release the entire body of witness transcripts so the public can see the facts for themselves.

The majority Republicans have submitted their final report to the intelligence community for declassification before release. The majority may also release a report on why they believe Russia did not favor Mr. Trump in the election, but wanted to sow chaos in the entire electorate.

Jimmy Kimmel, one of Hollywood’s loudest anti-Trump voices, went after Mr. Nunes in February.

“To call Devin Nunes Donald Trump’s lap dog would be an insult to dogs. And laps,” he told viewers.

Media Matters, a George Soros-financed critic of conservative news sites, is a frequent basher of Mr. Nunes. It called his FBI memo a “muddled nothing burger.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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