- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The House Democrats’ articles of impeachment reflected a distorted reality like a “funhouse mirror,” accusing President Trump of offenses Democrats committed themselves, Rep. Devin Nunes said Tuesday.

Whether it was House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff using his office to pursue a Russian offer of nude photographs of Mr. Trump or the Democratic National Committee seeking dirt on Mr. Trump from Russia and Ukraine in 2016, Mr. Nunes said it was Democrats who abused their power or sought foreign interference in elections.

“They need to get away from the funhouse mirrors,” Mr. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Times.

Mr. Nunes described the Democrats’ impeachment effort as “McCarthyism on steroids” and said it had done “tremendous damage” to the country and its democratic institutions.

He provided his views shortly after House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump. The articles accused the president of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, charges that stem from allegations that Mr. Trump attempted to force Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“We knew this was coming. This was no surprise,” said Mr. Nunes, a California Republican who has been a staunch opponent of the Democrats’ impeachment effort, which they conducted on a strictly partisan basis.

He noted that charges of bribery and a quid pro quo deal with Ukraine were missing from the articles of impeachment, despite Democrats insisting for weeks that they had evidence of those offenses.

“They were set on a quid pro quo, which bombed. Then they switched it to bribery after doing polling. That bombed. And now they are left with these two articles,” Mr. Nunes said. “We are a long way from where we began in this mess.”

The only mention of bribery during hundreds of hours of depositions in the impeachment inquiry was a single reference to Mr. Biden, whose son Hunter landed a $50,000-a-month job on the board of a Ukraine energy company while his father led Obama White House policy in that graft-riddled country.

“It is a little hard to go with bribery when nobody said bribery,” Mr. Nunes said. “They went out and they did polling and they said, ‘Oh great, we’re going to go with bribery because it polls well with the independents.’ Then you find out when you look at all the depositions, bribery had only been used to describe Biden.”

“This is all idiotic. What have we been doing here? That’s why the American people are not buying this,” Mr. Nunes said.

Mr. Schiff’s attempt to get nude photos of the president, Mr. Nunes said, underscored the duplicitous nature of the impeachment effort.

Mr. Schiff was pranked in 2017 by Russian comedians posing as a Ukraine politician who offered “pictures of naked Trump” taken during his visit to Russia for a Miss Universe pageant.

Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, insists he did not take the bait. But a member of his staff continued to correspond with the Russian reality show that made the offer.

“I know it sounds funny and it is ridiculous, but it is true,” Mr. Nunes said. “They used the official offices of the U.S. House of Representatives [and] Intelligence Committee resources to reach out to people they thought were Ukrainians, they were actually Russians, to get nude pictures of the president. I would say that would be dirt. That would be real dirt. So they should impeach themselves.”

He said just as serious was the damage the impeachment drive did to the country, and he said he felt bad for the Americans duped by the Democrats.

“It is McCarthyism on steroids,” Mr. Nunes said. “We have probably a third of Americans, maybe more, that believe the Republican Party is being controlled by the Russians.”

He added, “Tremendous damage has been done to the democratic republic like we have never seen. They used impeachment for political purposes. They started this three years ago with the help of the FBI and the Department of Justice. That’s how bad this is.”

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