Politics

After two-decade stint, Nunes departs Congress for Trump media post

Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R–Tulare) lengthy, two-decade-long tenure in the House of Representatives formally ended on Monday.

The Tulare Republican’s resignation letter, dated Jan. 1, was formally read into the record of the House of Representatives on Monday, touching off a 14-day wait for Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a special election to replace him.

The San Joaquin Valley native now joins the Trump Media and Technology Group as its chief executive officer.

Nunes, a Tulare dairy farmer and former trustee of the College of the Sequoias, was first elected to Congress in 2002 over a crowded Republican field featuring a Republican Mayor of Fresno and state lawmakers after serving as the California State Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development section.

The Tulare native, an acolyte of former House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, quickly set is sights with a career goal of eventually taking the gavel once held by his mentor.

19 years later, he departed as the highest ranking Republican on House Ways and Means, forgoing the opportunity to take the chairmanship should Republicans recapture the House in 2022.

Nunes also quickly established himself as a new combatant in the California water wars, battling environmental lobbies aiming to pare back water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley floor through two-pronged legislative and legal battles.

In the late Obama era, Nunes climbed through the ranks of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, ultimately earning the gavel in 2015 from former chair Mike Rogers (R–Mich.).

His leadership of the panel would take on an altogether different tenor amid the presidential transition and growing clamor over claims that the Russian government conspired to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that its efforts were aided by key American actors.

Nunes navigated contentious public hearings on the matter and ultimately penned a widely-cited memorandum that asserted Federal officials relied on “politically motivated or questionable sources” to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants from the FISA court to spy on Americans involved in the 2016 election.

He also led the charge to excoriate senior Obama administration officials for engaging in illegal unmasking of redacted communications by Trump campaign officials obtained via the FISA process.

His role in the Russia investigation, coupled with wall-to-wall national media exposure in the early years of the Trump era, vaulted Nunes’ profile overnight from that of an otherwise run-of-the-mill committee chair to national figure.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.