As the heads of the House Intelligence Committee, neither Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., nor Adam Schiff, D-Calif., seem particularly intelligent.
Quite the opposite, actually. They are both prone to hyper-partisan hysteria, which means they're constantly embarrassing themselves on national television with easily debunked allegations. Worse, however, is the fact that their partisan tilts and their relentless backbiting have become distractions from the very things they’re supposed to be investigating.
To put it as gently as possible: It’s time for the two to go. They should step down for committee chairs who will treat the job with the seriousness it deserves.
Nunes, who was part of Trump’s transition team, made headlines in March 2017 with his surprise announcement to reporters that the intelligence community had incidentally collected information on Trump's team following the Nov. 8 election. The GOP lawmaker made a mess of things later in April when he announced he would step away from the House's Russia investigation. Many took this to mean he would recuse himself. He didn’t recuse himself. Later, in June of the same year, he explained his puzzling on-again-off-again involvement in the investigation by noting he didn't actually use the word “recuse.” This doesn't inspire confidence.
Fast forward several months, and the House Intelligence chair isn’t exactly covering himself in glory. Consider the following CBS News report:
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee plan to construct a wall – a physical partition – separating Republican and Democratic staff members in the committee's secure spaces, according to multiple committee sources. It's expected to happen this spring.
For now, some Republican committee members deny knowing anything about it, while strongly suggesting the division is the brainchild of the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, R-California.
There’s also the fact that Nunes suggested this week that President Trump had never met with George Papadopoulos, the former White House staffer who bragged to an Australian diplomat that the Russians had provided the GOP campaign with hacked Democratic emails. The problem here is that there is photographic evidence of the two meeting.
Then, there's the GOP lawmaker's equally embarrassing Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff, who warned that the sky would fall, that the oceans would boil, and that the the entire U.S. national security apparatus would implode if Nunes was allowed to release a secret memo alleging the FBI unethically (and possibly illegally) targeted Trump.
The memo came out, and the sky is still in place. It contained some information of interest, but none of Schiff's hyperbolic predictions came to pass. His hand-wringing was merely for purposes of hyper-partisanship. This is just one of the many examples of the California Democrat overplaying his hand in the Russia scandal. There's a lot more where this comes from, including the time he claimed to have seen proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Unsurprisingly, Schiff has yet to produce anything to substantiate his claim.
As my Washington Examiner colleague Tom Rogan wrote, “[I]f Nunes and Schiff stay in their roles, the current predicament will only get worse. The two men's desire to one-up each other and their now open lack of respect will continue to reverberate if they stay on. We're already seeing it spread throughout the committee's work and into the minds, and tweets, of its other members."
He's right. Like Rogan, I also believe Nunes and Schiff should step down. They would save their respective parties any future embarrassment, and it’d be good for the republic as a whole.