Devin Nunes seemed to confuse his task as House Intelligence Committee chairman with his political allegiance to President Trump. Nunes appeared to be keeping Trump and his aides closely informed about the committee’s work on a probe of Russian intelligence operations and alleged attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, something the California congressman rationalized as appropriate in his role.
He was wrong. And his behavior apparently became even a little problematic for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who surely must have influenced Nunes’ decision to step aside from leading the probe. Nunes also was hurt by the stellar, serious focus of the ranking Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff, also of California.
The serious problems on the House committee prompt even more interest in a corresponding probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a staunch supporter of President Trump. Burr has of late emphasized his determination to have a thorough investigation free of political influence. His performance will determine whether his legacy will be compared to the late Sen. Sam Ervin, the Tar Heel who led the Watergate investigation with high integrity — or to that of Nunes, who failed his biggest test.