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Hullabaloo


Thursday, March 02, 2017

 
"Be careful what you ask"

by digby




















I'd be thrilled if Republicans on the intelligence committees decided that spying on American citizens was out of bounds but let's just say I doubt this particular fellow's consistency on the subject. I'm guessing this is a one time only concern:
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters to "be careful what you ask for" during a discussion of FBI phone records.

He seemed to imply that the reporters themselves, or "other Americans," could become the targets of congressional investigations should phone records implicate them.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), speaking at a press briefing Thursday, was answering questions about the FBI’s cooperation with his committee, which is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nunes was a member of the Trump administration’s transition team executive committee.

Asked whether the FBI was providing information in a forthcoming manner for the committee's investigation, Nunes said what really mattered was that the FBI was providing "timely information when they can get it to us."

“Why can't they?” a reporter asked.

“I would assume that because it's quite complicated as it relates to, if, for example, you were on the phone with the Russian ambassador and somehow your phone call got recorded, would you want them turning over that phone call and that transcript to the committee?” Nunes replied.

“But isn't there a difference between a call between a private person?” the reporter countered.

Nunes referenced ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned after revelations that he spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States about sanctions before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, when Flynn was a civilian. Nunes had previously mentioned that his committee was calling for any evidence that Trump affiliates were colluding with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

“That's the point here. General Flynn was a private American citizen,” Nunes said. “Look, I'm sure some of you are in contact with the Russian embassy, so be careful what you ask for here because if we start getting transcripts of any of you or any other Americans talking to the press, then we can – do you want us to conduct an investigation on you or other Americans because you were talking to the Russian embassy? I just think we need to be careful.”

Standing up for Flynn's civil liberties in the same breath that you threaten people with government surveillance isn't too convincing. Relying on the argument that  Flynn was a "private citizen" when he was working on behalf of the president elect during his transition is just a bit of a stretch.

This is a dangerous man. But assuming there's no getting rid of him, at the very least there needs to be a special prosecutor or an independent commission handling the Russia issue. He's so far in the tank he's gurgling.




BTW: If you think Nunes is normally a big civil libertarian, think again.

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