For weeks, as impeachment hearings came and went, Republican and Trump choirboy Devin Nunes took the microphone when it came his time to speak as ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee and made some inane comment like, what a "farce" he thought it was to suggest that President Donald Trump was soliciting foreign officials to intervene in the 2020 election.
All the while, however, he knew it wasn't a "farce."
He knew it wasn't a farce because it now seems he may well have been part of the solicitation for foreign officials to intervene in our next presidential election.
The Daily Beast on Thursday reported that one of the indicted associates of Rudy Giuliani — Soviet-born Lev Parnas — helped Nunes arrange calls and meetings in Europe in 2018 to pursue his "investigations," according to one of Parnas' attorneys.
And CNN reported Friday that a second Parnas attorney told CNN reporters that Nunes traveled to Vienna in December 2018 to meet with disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin. Nunes made the trip, according to Parnas' attorney, for the express purpose of gathering manufactured dirt that could be used against Joe Biden — a Trump opponent who continues to lead in most Democratic primary polls, as well as in most head-to-head polls with President Donald Trump in a 2020 matchup.
Attorney Joseph A. Bondy told CNN that Parnas is willing to tell Congress about meetings Nunes had in Vienna last year with Shokin to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden. Parnas already has produced thousands of pages of documents and even a video about his work with Giuliani in Ukraine. It is unclear at this time, according to The Washington Post, whether those documents include anything about Nunes or his aides.
Shokin was ousted from his position as prosecutor in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden and a number of Republican senators at the time. The leaders said Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases.
CNN found a 2016 letter, sent by members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and signed by Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson, as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown and Richard Blumenthal. The letter focused on longstanding issues of corruption in Ukraine and urged reforms.
Part of that "reform" included the ouster of Shokin and others for failure to investigate corruption. Ukraine's legislature voted to fire Shokin in March 2016, a month after the letter was sent.
That same month, then-Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, held a hearing to explore how the U.S. could help Ukraine further its own efforts to fight corruption — beyond just ousting Shokin.
"So we are at a point again where I think Congress has been heavily pushing the administration to be more involved in helping Ukraine. We are now seeking a balance where Russia is still doing those things to create a frozen conflict, if you will, in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, there are things that Ukraine needs to do for its own good," Corker said in his opening statement.
At the same hearing, John E. Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine in the Bush administration and now director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, testified that there was widespread support for the removal of Shokin, and Herbst specifically praised Joe Biden for his efforts to push that removal.
But that same Shokin was the same former prosecutor that President Trump spoke well of in his July 25 phone call with the new president of Ukraine. In Trump's and Giuliani's fiction, Shokin was fired because he wanted to investigate a Ukrainian gas holdings company and its board, on which Joe Biden's son Hunter served as a member.
According to CNN, Giuliani has told CNN reporters previously about his conversations with Shokin and Parnas, saying that this was part of his legal work for his client, President Trump. But Parnas' claims about Nunes' alleged involvement suggests for the first time that efforts to dig up dirt on the Bidens also involved a member of Congress.
Nunes has repeatedly refused to comment to CNN and dodged the question from Fox News. He told Breitbart news that the reporting was "demonstrably false."
Congressional records do show Nunes and three of his aides traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018, and they were traveling on our dimes. U.S. government funds paid for the four-day trip, costing us just over $63,000.
House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, D-Washington, suggested on Sunday that Nunes likely will be investigated for breach of ethics.
We certainly hope someone launches a formal investigation.