California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes isn’t afraid of court.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee has already sued the social media giant Twitter and the McClatchy newspaper chain, alleging both entities engaged in smearing campaigns to try to derail his investigation of the events surrounding the 2016 election.
This week, Nunes filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against Fusion GPS, one of the most familiar names to come out of the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation.
In the lawsuit, Nunes claims the political research firm conspired with a liberal nonprofit group called Campaign for Accountability to manufacture ethics complaints against Nunes when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The groups engaged in “ongoing and continuous racketeering activities are part of a joint and systematic effort to intimidate, harass, threaten, influence, interfere with, impede, and ultimately to derail Plaintiff’s congressional investigation into Russian intermeddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” the lawsuit reads.
It seeks a total of $9.9 million in punitive and compensatory damages. That might seem small change compared to Nunes’ $250 million suit against Twitter and the $150 million he’s seeking from McClatchy, but it’s still a powerful statement.
“I was often smeared,” Nunes told Fox News’ host Sean Hannity in a Wednesday night appearance on “Hannity.” “And now, what we know is, there’s a link between those who were doing the smearing and Fusion GPS.”
Check out his appearance here with journalist Sara Carter. It covers more than the lawsuit itself, but it’s well worth watching:
As anyone who has followed the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller knows, Fusion GPS is the firm that employed ex-British spy Christopher Steele, the man who produced the notorious “Steele dossier” that was the basis for so much of the FBI’s investigation into Donald Trump, his presidential campaign and the early part of his presidency.
(The fact that Mueller himself seemed to be unaware of Fusion GPS during his dismal appearance before Congress in late July is good reason alone, as Nunes noted, to think Mueller wasn’t exactly in charge of the effort aimed at taking Trump out of office.)
In the suit, Nunes claims Fusion conspired with the liberal group Campaign for Accountability to file three ethics complaints against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics, ostensibly criticizing his communications with conservative media outlets but in reality aimed at hindering his investigation of Fusion GPS, the Steele dossier and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“The purpose of the Fusion GPS/CfA ‘ethics’ complaints was to create negative publicity for Plaintiff, to harass, intimidate and distract Plaintiff, to cast a pall upon the Congressional investigation into the role that Fusion GPS, Simpson and the ‘Steele Dossier’ played in advancing the ‘Russia collusion’ narrative, and to dissuade Plaintiff from pursuing criminal charges against Simpson and Fusion GPS,” the suit reads.
The suit also claims Fusion and CfA enlisted a California political operative to make public records requests of the school district where Nunes’ wife was employed, resulting in further harassment.
“[The operative] published Elizabeth Nunes’ emails online and included the names and email addresses of numerous school administrators and teachers, resulting in extensive harassment of these innocent, hard-working citizens of Tulare County, including hateful accusations that they teach bigotry and racism,” the suit states.
In a statement to Fox on Thursday, CfA denied it was targeting Nunes, stating that Nunes’ position and activities that drew legitimate criticism.
“CfA’s ethics complaints detail how Devin Nunes apparently leaked confidential information and failed to disclose his personal finances as required by law,” the group’s executive director, Daniel Stevens, said in the statement.
“Since Nunes can’t explain away these ethical lapses, he has resorted to filing poorly drafted lawsuits to deflect attention.”
But in the interview on “Hannity” Wednesday night, Nunes had a different take. His position as an influential congressman, he said, gives him the ability most Americans don’t have to fight back against attacks on his character.
And he isn’t afraid to go to court.
“I’m gonna hold these guys accountable,” Nunes told Hannity. “And this is just one many steps that we continue to take.”
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