Highlight · Politics

Thousands in-tow, Nunes’ Freedom Fest propels efforts toward 2022

TULARE, CALIF. – 2,000 residents of the Central Valley and beyond piled into the International Agri-Center here to attend the first-ever Freedom Festival, hosted by Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare).

Featuring a line-up of conservative luminaries and Nunes’ colleagues, the event served as its own form of state of the union with serious projections of what the future holds.

Longtime KMJ-AM radio host Ray Appleton served as the emcee. 

Local Valley officials were also in attendance, including Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, who led the opening prayer.

Nunes welcomed fellow Congressmen Mike Garcia (R–Santa Clarita) and Andy Biggs (R–Arizona) to the Valley to discuss the growing socialist influence in California and the sizable impact that Big Tech had on the 2020 election cycle.

Donald Trump Jr. joined the event via video call – albeit slightly delayed – engaging in a question-and-answer with Nunes.

“See? I told you guys! We defeated Amazon, Google, and the Chinese to get Don on the phone,” Nunes wound up. “It only took ten minutes!”

Asked about the 45th President, Trump, Jr. said the former commander-in-chief is “engaged and ready to keep fighting.”

“I think everyone in America realizes what’s going on,” Trump, Jr. said. “They’re looking around right now and despite the obstacles – many of which you have fought against Devin – I think we’re doing well.”

He reflected on his own viral moment on Friday, making a joke that President Joe Biden was more like former President Jimmy Carter than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The comment sparked confusion among younger Twitter users who hadn’t lived through the Cold War era of soaring stagflation leading into the Iran Hostage Crisis, but rather only knew of his Nobel Peace Prize victory.

“Unfortunately these [Biden] policies are going to put Americans into a position where they’re going to have to get engaged, they’re going to have to figure out what’s real, they’re going to have to learn to sort out the nonsense,” the former First Son said.

While the senior Trump is still leaving options open for a 2024 comeback bid for the White House, the younger Trump said that the focus for his father remains on the highly-important 2022 midterm elections.

“He’s trying to figure out the candidates that are truly going to be America First,” Trump, Jr. said. “Trying to weed out the RINOs.”

Trump, Jr. also touched on the embroiling controversy with House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R–Wyo.) and efforts to oust her from the position.

“When you have the Liz Cheneys of the world supposedly representing the Republican Party leadership, you have to wonder,” the younger Trump said. “The job is to recruit other candidates and to raise money. I haven’t seen her do either of those things in a few years – if ever.”

Trump Jr. said his father is doing well and is currently exploring how to help the GOP win races during the 2022 midterm elections. 

Lee Smith – the author of The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History – spoke about his book and was joined by filmmaker Amanda Milius, who produced a documentary based on the book. 

Noted conservative commentator and professor Victor Davis Hanson served as one of the headline speakers and addressed the current situation with China, among other topics. 

California Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer gave a campaign speech, saying that he is confident Gov. Gavin Newsom will be recalled and a Republican can win by putting forth conservative principles and values. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s former hairdresser also made an appearance. Erica Kious, the Fresno native and former owner of eSalon in San Francisco, received national fame after Pelosi got her hair done in the salon last year, which broke the state’s COVID-19 restrictions

“[Pelosi] would come in for six years,” Kious said. “When I saw her on TV – especially when she said I set her up – I felt like I was going to throw up. It was hurtful that she would do that.” 

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe served as the concluding keynoter for the day, detailing his undercover reporting on government and media corruption.

O’Keefe – a regular viral sensation on the right for his hidden camera political espionage of the mainstream media and government – was recently banned from Twitter.

Here, he regaled audience members with the behind the scenes work necessary to push the viral projects forward, including one featuring a San Joaquin Valley native.

Marissa Jorge, an Atwater native and Liberty University graduate, spearheaded a project to investigate the American Teachers Federation branch in Michigan.

Among the findings by Veritas, which launched significant litigation, was an AFT official speaking, via hidden camera, of a $50,000 settlement reached for a teacher who was accused of sexually assaulting a student.

The teacher, the union official said, did not lose his credential for the incident.

“There is nothing quite like the spirit of the Valley,” Jorge said, reflecting on her roots on-stage with O’Keefe. “You all are the last bastions of hope for California.”

Attorney and RNC National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon and Kash Patel, the former Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for the Department of Defense under President Donald Trump, rounded out the guest speakers. 

Patel, who was a key advisor to Nunes at the height of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, was also a key co-author of the famous memorandum targeting questionable sources that sparked the Department of Justice investigation into various Trump officials.

Reflecting on the work he’s undertaken during the Trump administration, Patel argued there is still much left to truly seek justice relative to the cloud of conspiracies waged during the last four years.

“I understand why people are jaded,” he said. “Devin and I started this for accountability for the American people because that is our job. That’s what we signed up for. And accountability, in its purest form, happens in indictments. I hope that we do get there.”

Patel said that their work in the early aughts of the Trump era did accomplish much-needed ends.

“We had 17 people fired from the U.S. Government, including the Director of the FBI and the Deputy Director of the FBI,” he said of the House Intelligence Committee’s report on politically-motivated Russia probes and the Nunes memo. “That’s accountability.”

Ultimate accountability, Patel noted, comes at the ballot box with a flipping of Congress in 2022 and the potential to flip the White House in 2024.

Daniel Gligich and Alex Tavlian contributed to this report.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.