Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who was one of the first lawmakers to openly doubt the Russia-collusion story and became a vocal defender of then-President Trump, is retiring from Congress to lead Mr. Trump’s new media organization, the company announced Monday.
Trump Media & Technology Group said Mr. Nunes will join the company as CEO in January.
“Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG. Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great. America is ready for TRUTH Social and the end to censorship and political discrimination.”
Mr. Trump is banned on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook over his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Nunes informed his constituents in a letter.
“Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in,” the lawmaker wrote. “I have decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021. I will deeply miss being your congressman. Rest assured, I have not, by any means, given up our collective fight — I’ll just be pursuing it through other means.”
His retirement was first reported by Politico.
Mr. Trump plans to launch a new social media platform, TRUTH Social, under Trump Media & Technology Group. The Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators are investigating a deal between Trump Media and a special purpose acquisition company, Digital World Acquisition Corp., according to a report filed with the SEC.
In the announcement from Trump Media, Mr. Nunes said the time has come “to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship.”
“The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream,” Mr. Nunes said. “I’m humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world-class team that will deliver on this promise.”
Mr. Nunes, 48, has served in the House since 2003 and rose to chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2015 to 2019, including during Mr. Trump’s presidency. The company said Mr. Nunes “worked on important matters related to U.S. security including cybersecurity and information technology.”
As chairman of the panel, Mr. Nunes was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and discredited allegations that Trump campaign officials colluded with Moscow.
He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Mr. Trump.
Mr. Nunes was in line to become chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win back the House majority in 2022.
But California is redrawing its congressional districts, a move that could make Mr. Nunes‘ 22nd district more Democratic.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said Mr. Nunes‘ retirement will leave a “gaping hole” in Congress.
“Congressman Devin Nunes is an American patriot and his service in Congress will be remembered by his singular goal of the search for truth,” Mr. McCarthy said. “As the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, with the entire weight of the legacy media and Washington establishment bearing down on him, Devin stood by his convictions on behalf of his constituents and hardworking Americans across the country. And every step of the way, Devin was proven right.”
He said there “no better person prepared to compete head-to-head and lead an alternative to the big tech and big media cartel that has carried water for the Democrat Party for years than Devin.”
• Victor Morton and Joseph Clark contributed to this report.