Rep. Devin Nunes lashed out at the media on Sunday as he faced criticism – and a potential ethics probe – for his alleged role in helping President Donald Trump dig up dirt on political rival Joe Biden.
“It’s not OK to work with someone who’s been indicted, to build a media narrative to try to dirty up the people who are doing the work on behalf of the American people,” the California Republican said via telephone on Fox News.
Lev Parnas, who worked with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine, is prepared to testify under oath that Nunes – one of Trump’s loudest defenders in Congress – participated in meetings in Europe focused on Biden, the Ukrainian-born American’s lawyer told CNN on Friday.
“Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” attorney Joseph Bondy told CNN. The Daily Beast reported similar allegations about Nunes, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, citing Ed MacMahon, another Parnas attorney.
Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said on MSNBC on Saturday that it was “quite likely” Nunes could face an inquiry over the allegations. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat on the intelligence panel, made a similar comment on Twitter.
Nunes’ alleged conduct would be a matter for the House Ethics Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence panel, said Sunday on CNN.
“If he was on a taxpayer-funded CODEL, and I say ‘if,’ seeking dirt on a potential Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, that will be an ethics matter,” Schiff said, using the term for a congressional delegation. “That’s not before our committee.”
Giuliani associates Parnas and Igor Fruman were indicted in October on charges of using foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions.
Bondy tweeted at Schiff on Saturday, urging him to hear testimony from Parnas. “It’s non-hearsay,” Bondy said. Schiff said Sunday his committee has subpoenaed documents from Parnas and has had “discussions with the Southern District of New York in terms of Mr. Nunes’ conduct,” referring to one federal court in New York.
Nunes said he planned to sue CNN and the Daily Beast. “I will win in court. They’ll have to show how they worked with somebody who’s been indicted,” he said on Fox.
The lawmaker has a history of litigation, having earlier this year sued the McClatchy newspaper chain for what he termed “character assassination” contained in a Fresno Bee article on a winery he partly owns, and social media site Twitter for allowing its users to insult him.