Politics

Fresh out of office, Nunes opens up on Trump social media, election to replace him

He’s just Devin, now.

Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) took to Valley airwaves on Thursday, speaking to KMJ’s Ray Appleton for an hour, his first opportunity since departing Congress to discuss the quick work to launch a social network under the Trump Media banner.

For Nunes, the shift into the private sector from Congress is walking the walk on a few years of talking the talk about the growing dangers of Big Tech, describing his new venture as “continuing public service.”

Before jumping into his work with former President Donald Trump, Appleton opened with a quick reflection: did Nunes miss Congress now that it’s back in session following the holidays.

The short answer? Nope.

“The decorum has really just collapsed,” Nunes said. “It’s just – there’s not a lot of legislative business there.”

As for his new gig as Chief Executive Officer of Trump Media and Technology Group, Nunes noted that the move shouldn’t have surprised anyone who read his last book, 2020’s Countdown to Socialism.

“When the president called me and asked me to do this it felt like Hey, I’ve been running around the country holding Freedom Tours and Freedom Festivals and it was all focused on Big Tech and how big these companies have become,” Nunes said. “They’ve become global empires and they’re just dominating our entire society. To have the opportunity to open this back up for a free flow of information I just believe is the most important issue at the highest level.”

The path to nabbing Nunes for the position, admittedly, wasn’t expected.

“When [the company] was announced in October, it took me by surprise,” Nunes said, citing a growing crop of rumors that Trump would join one of the upstart conservative social media platforms such as Parler or GETTR.

Nunes described some of America – and the world’s – largest tech platforms as “taking advantage of the American people” through censorship enforced via hypocritical content policies.

As for TRUTH Social, the company’s first offering, Nunes said TMTG is targeting the end of the first quarter of 2022 for it to roll out. The platform is set to partner with YouTube competitor Rumble, he added.

Meanwhile, the ambitions of Trump’s Nunes-led media empire are far reaching. One avenue previewed? Streaming services, aiming to expand the slate of movie and TV production that likely wouldn’t fly with major players like Netflix or Hulu.

Any regrets after departing Capitol Hill?

One caller asked Nunes to name the biggest regrets from the GOP’s total control of Washington during the early days of the Trump era.

The answer wasn’t unexpected: reforming or replacing Obamacare.

Nunes noted that the so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare, dramatically sunk by the late Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.), was developed to improve the quality of care delivered via Medicaid (known in California as Medi-Cal) which is heavily relied upon in the San Joaquin Valley.

The other regret? Unfinished business over the Valley’s water war, noting President Trump’s successes at boosting water flows to the region and southern California in 2019 only to see Gov. Gavin Newsom and California officials sue to block it.

“We haven’t been able to fix this water problem and watching this disinformation on the water issue is part of what propelled me to say, ‘OK, look, I’ve seen enough.’ And we’ve gotta open up the free flow of information,” Nunes said. “It’s something I regret that we didn’t get done but it’s also a catalyst for me going and doing what I’m doing today.”

Any chosen successor to replace him in Congress?

Not so much, Nunes told Appleton.

“I think it’s best that I just stay out,” he said, noting his hope to turn TRUTH Social into a platform with mass appeal. “I think people know my political beliefs, those obviously aren’t going to change but at this point I think it’s just best that I kinda stay away and stay out of politics.”

“May the best person win and I think that’s just the best way to go.”

Nunes reiterates stance on Jan. 6

Another caller sought Nunes’ view on the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Nunes said that the key in the incident was to draw a key line between protesters hoping to speak their minds in the people’s House versus those engaging in riotous behavior, marked by property damage.

“First and foremost, for people that go into our nation’s Capitol – it is the people’s House. We give people tours – well, used to pre-COVID, but it is illegal to riot and to break windows,” he said.

“The frustrating part in this is that some people that have broken windows have prosecuted, but other people have not. There are so many questions that remain out there.

“I think it’s important to remember that it is the right of the people to be in the people’s house, it is the right for the people to protest their government or whatever they would like.

“The challenge is, though, that it is not OK to riot.

“Why don’t we focus on the people that broke all those windows and did all those things. It seems like, unfortunately, it’s turned into some political issue like a lot of things in Washington.

“The people that were actually doing the rioting should be prosecuted.”

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.