How Devin Nunes Went From Dairy Farmer to Leading a Congressional Investigation

Devin Nunes has served as U.S. Representative for California’s 22nd congressional district since 2003. He was a member of Donald Trump’s transition team and has been chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 2015. And he used to be a dairy farmer.

In early 2018, Nunes was criticized for bias in a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections — he denied all allegations. Read on to find out how Nunes went from dairy farmer to a central figure in the Trump-Russia saga.

1. How Nunes got into politics

Representative Devin Nunes

He started out as a dairy farmer. | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Nunes started out as a dairy farmer. His family has operated a farm in Tulare County, Calif., for three generations. Nunes graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and a master’s degree in agriculture.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Nunes as California state director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development section, according to The Washington Post. In 2002 he ran for the Republican nomination in the 21st congressional district and won. The rest is history.

Next: Nunes’ career trajectory

2. He rose through the ranks quickly

Chairman Devin Nunes and Rep. Peter King leave the committee's secure meeting rooms in the basement of the U.S. Capitol House Visitors Center

He was made chairman of the secret committee. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In 2011, after serving eight terms in Congress, Nunes was appointed to Congress’s secretive panel, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. After only four years, he was appointed chairman of the committee.

Next: Russia enters the scene

3. He gets into the Russian interference issue

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes walks to the House floor on Capitol Hill

He tried to sabotage the investigation. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In March 2017, Nunes attended the House Intelligence Committee’s first open hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. elections — and things went downhill from there. According to the Palmer Report, he took advantage of his position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to try to sabotage its investigation into Trump’s Russia scandal.

Next: Dunes goes rogue

4. He launched his own investigation

a phone with the text of the nunes memo on it

The now-infamous Nunes Memo doesn’t include the fact that he was in on it. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When Nunes was temporarily removed from the Trump-Russia investigation, he decided to undertake his own investigation, designed to clear Trump’s name. According to The Daily Beast, evidence later came out that Nunes was in on the Trump-Russia conspiracy from the start.

Next: Nunes going to the big house?

5. He might have to do time

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes arrives at the committee's secure offices

Some experts predict prison for Nunes. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

According to the Palmer Report, at least one respected legal expert thinks Nunes will go to prison for his involvement in the Trump-Russia conspiracy. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe — a leading expert on the U.S. Constitution, tweeted this on December 28: “Nunes is headed to federal prison.” Tribe declined to expound on his legal reasoning, but it’s not hard to figure out what he’s talking about.

Next: Nunes talks too much

6. He’s undermining the probe

Chairman of House Intelligence Committee, attends a lunch that President Donald Trump addressing at the 2018 House

His opinions directly contradict the intelligence community. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

According to The Daily Beast, Nunes said he didn’t think Russia wanted Trump to win the election, which directly contradicted the intelligence community’s determination regarding Russia’s intentions. In addition, he said he saw no sign of Trump’s campaign colluding with Russia, yet Rep. Adam Schiff — Nunes’ Democratic counterpart — said that’s impossible to rule out so early in the investigation.

Nunes also spoke to a reporter — on behalf of the White House’s — about ties between Russia and Trump associates, which some critics saw as him “undermining the independence of his ongoing Russia probe.”

Next: Is Nunes a loyal subject?

7. He wasn’t a Trump supporter

Chairman Devin Nunes speaks to reporters during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol

He said he would support whoever the Republican nominee would be. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

During Trump’s presidential campaign, Nunes wasn’t a strong Trump supporter. The only thing he said was that he would support whoever the Republican nominee turned out to be.

Nunes did give offer to brief all of the candidates on national security issues. According to Politico. Trump took him up on his offer in March 2016.

Next: Constituents corner

8. His constituents have this to say

Chairman Devin Nunes speaks to reporters after a meeting at the White House

His constituents aren’t all the biggest fans. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Farmersville, Calif., Democratic city council member Greg Gomez told The Daily Beast that he met his congressman only once — and that he thought Nunes was “robotic” and “reclusive” toward his constituents. Many of his constituents wonder why Nunes — who has no significant intelligence or military experience would be in charge of overseeing the nation’s spies.

Next: Nunes’ challenge

9. He has things to overcome

Dave Reichert and member Rep. Devin Nunes attend a hearing about NAFTA reform in the Longworth House Office

He is not doing a very good job of looking bipartisan. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Convincing the public that he is running a bipartisan, transparent investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal is Nunes’s biggest challenge. So far, he’s not doing very well — he already tried to minimize how important his own panel’s investigation is and he has already expressed an opinion regarding the probe’s outcome.

Next: He doesn’t want an independent investigation.

10. He doesn’t want an independent investigation

Devin Nunes

He calls the investigation a ‘witch hunt.’ | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

According to The Daily Beast, Nunes doesn’t want this whole thing to turn into “witch hunt” against anyone in the U.S. who has ties to Russia. And he doesn’t think there should be an independent investigation into the scandal — he feels it would be “almost like McCarthyism revisited.”

Read more: Meet the Dwight Schrute of the Trump Administration

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