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Devin Nunes tries to rescue Trump — and may have made the deepening scandal worse

One of the more unusual characteristics of Donald Trump and his closest associates is the extent to which they seem to have psychic powers. Recall that back on Aug. 21 of last year, conservative operative and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone tweeted gleefully, “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Lo and behold, on Oct. 7 WikiLeaks released its trove of Podesta’s emails.

It wasn’t long after that that Trump’s close ally, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, exhibited a similar eerie prescience. Days before James Comey announced that the FBI would examine Clinton emails found on a computer used by Anthony Weiner, Giuliani told Fox News, “I think he’s [Trump] got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days … I’m talking about some pretty big surprises … We got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn this around.” Was he ever right.

Then, on March 15, in the wake of the president’s manic early-morning tweet-storm accusing Barack Obama of having him wiretapped, Trump demonstrated his own awe-inspiring clairvoyance. He told Tucker Carlson that despite all the denials from every institution and person in a position to know, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Wouldn’t you know it? On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was shown some documents by a “source” that had him so up in arms he couldn’t even take the time to alert the other committee members before he ran to the White House to show the president. When asked if he felt vindicated by this alleged bombshell, Trump replied:

I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, I somewhat do.

It’s amazing how Trump and his people are able to see into the future this way, isn’t it?

Of course, Roger Stone is now in the crosshairs of a serious counterintelligence investigation and undoubtedly regrets crowing about what he knew. Giuliani was unceremoniously put out to pasture after being rumored to have helped rogue elements of law enforcement with their anti-Clinton crusade on behalf of Donald Trump. And nobody on the planet really believes that Nunes’ bizarre performance “somewhat” vindicated Trump — or vindicated him at all. Indeed, all Nunes’ stunt did was open the door to a bunch of new questions that Trump may very well regret being asked.

In a nutshell, Nunes claimed that this unnamed source showed him some intelligence intercept from the transition period that indicated members of the Trump team were under surveillance. Inexplicably, the congressman thought it was appropriate to immediately inform the the subject of the investigation and tell the world he did it. Under questioning in the two (!) press conferences Nunes held on the matter, it became clear that he was talking about routine legal surveillance of foreign actors that caught up some conversations with Trump transition officials. His only complaint was that reports of these intercepts were disseminated inside the government without properly masking the Trump officials’ identities, a process known as “minimization.” (The inadequacy of this protection has been a gripe of civil libertarians for years — something the GOP dismissed as overwrought until it happened to Republicans.)

Since even Nunes admits that this surveillance was routine, why this revelation would “vindicate” Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped him remains a mystery. But it certainly didn’t stop the Trump defenders from sending up celebratory fireworks.

Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Heather Digby Parton.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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