Rep. Devin Nunes, the Tulare Republican and head of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke at length Monday on a local radio talk show about the recent shooting of a fellow congressman, the investigations into President Donald Trump and the House’s health-care bill currently working its way through the U.S. Senate.
For about 90 minutes, Nunes fielded questions from callers and host Ray Appleton on KMJ 580 AM/105.9 FM.
Nunes began with an update on Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who was shot and seriously wounded last Wednesday during a practice for the annual congressional softball game. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, was killed in a subsequent shootout with police at the baseball diamond.
Nunes said Scalise was out of critical condition but suffered damage to “quite a few” organs from the bullet passing through his pelvis. He then shifted to Hodgkinson, who has been linked to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and other left-wing causes.
Never miss a local story.
“It was almost predictable,” Nunes said.
He went on to say that “more and more activity of fake news and fake media,” as well as statements from his Democratic colleagues, have continued to incite protests and threats against those in public office.
I am worried for the country. This level of civil discourse – I’ve never seen anything like it.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare
“I could tell by the amount of visceral emails and daily threats we still receive,” Nunes said. “I am worried for the country. This level of civil discourse – I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Nunes then focused his sights on the media, which he said has always been about 90 percent left-wing but is now choosing to no longer disguise its leaning.
“Ninety percent of the media is the arm of the Democratic Party,” Nunes said. “Five percent is legitimate journalists, like you here in the KMJ news studio... and 5 percent are right-wing.”
He then returned to the Scalise shooting, saying that it may be necessary to increase security and limit public access to members of Congress and the capitol. Congress may be better off with a campus-style security system in which all visitors must first be screened, he added.
One caller eventually steered the congressman toward comment on state politics. Nunes said Californians were beginning to reject the high level of taxation in the state, which may make it possible for the “miracle” election of a Republican governor in 2018.
Nunes then switched focus to the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the election. He maintained that there was no evidence of any collusion. He also said that he never, despite widespread reports to the contrary, recused himself from that investigation.
“All I said was I was going to temporarily step aside,” Nunes said.
The media is trying to discredit him, he added, because he knows that Democrats have been using the intelligence agencies to investigate people for political reasons. So too are his colleagues on the opposite of the aisle.
The last thing we’re going to do is give in to a lot of left-wing activists and media.
“The Democrats know that I know who was doing the unmasking,” he said. “I know who leaked (inside) information (to the media).”
Nunes said he was originally fine with the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor looking into the collusion accusations, but he’s now worried that this investigation has shifted from collusion into digging up any possible dirt on the president or his staff members.
Another caller then steered Nunes to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, referred to on the show as Obamacare, and the House’s passage of the American Healthcare Act. He said the plan, which the House worked on for years, was particularly positive for the Valley, where it will move people off of Medi-Cal and onto private insurance. He added that the Senate may vote on its updated version of the act next week.
Nunes was then asked why an all-Republican Congress was not passing more legislation. He corrected the caller, saying the House, Senate and Trump have signed more bills into law than any previous Congress/presidential combination in history up to this point.
The congressman ended his segment by discussing town hall meetings. He has been regularly criticized for not holding public meetings in which constituents could speak to him directly. He said he holds such gatherings for particular issues, but has no plans to host a general town hall. Many of the people calling for him to host one are “looking for a YouTube moment” and have a personal agenda, he added.
“The last thing we’re going to do is give in to a lot of left-wing activists and media,” Nunes said. “And with these security situations, I don’t know how any member of Congress can do a town hall.”