In joining Trump, Nunes is walking away from what is arguably the most powerful chairmanship in the House.
California Rep. Devin Nunes, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is quitting Congress before the year ends to join former President Trump’s new social media company. Nunes said he was “humbled and honored” to have been entrusted with the job of “Truth Social” CEO.
As the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Nunes was in line to become chairman should the GOP take back the House in 2022 — which it looks increasingly likely to. In choosing Trump over arguably the most powerful chairmanship in the House and the opportunity to write tax and health care policy, Nunes is making a pointed statement about where he feels the true conservative power lies.
CNN Business points out that the strong indication is that Nunes feels the pro-Trump media holds greater sway over the GOP and wider conservative movement than lawmakers — even powerful ones like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s the voters, not the politicians, who create decisive narratives, with top right-wing media personalities like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade and Greg Kelly guiding their way.
Nunes’ move is an especially stark one considering that Trump’s venture is far from a sure bet, having missed a self-imposed deadline to release a product. CNN’s Oliver Darcy adds: “When it was first announced, the site was immediately targeted successfully by hackers. And… it was revealed in public filings that the SPAC taking it public is under investigation by the SEC and FINRA.”
Trump lost no time giving a characteristically combative statement on Nunes’ defection, saying: “Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG… Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great.”
A proud dairy farmer, Nunes has no apparent expertise in the tech industry or experience as an executive. As an outspoken critic of the established media, he’s previously launched public battles against publications and mainstream sites including The Washington Post, CNN, The Fresno Bee and Twitter over perceived offences.
As Politico notes however, Nunes is an accomplished fundraiser, boasting a nearly $12 million war chest as of the end of September. His financial might is a testament to his popularity among conservatives, as well as the Republican inclination of his district. Nunes fiercely defended Trump during his first impeachment trial in 2019, and recused himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. He was later cleared of allegations that he’d shared classified information with the White House by an ethics panel.
Nunes’ departure from the House sets up two 2022 elections: a special election for the rest of his term under the old district lines, and the regular election under the new lines for the next Congress beginning in 2023. Upon his departure, the California Democratic Party tweeted: “Devin Nunes has long been an embarrassment to California. It’s only fitting that he now leaves Congress to debase himself even further to Donald Trump. We look forward to supporting a candidate in CA-22 who will actually work for the people.”