Nunes at impeachment hearing: Intelligence committee 'hijacked' by 'partisan extremists' to remove this president

Partisan House Democrats have "hijacked" the Intelligence Committee and are attempting to concoct "ludicrous" theories about President Trump to aid their impeachment efforts, said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., during his opening statement on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

"The Democrats on this committee spent three years accusing President Trump of being a Russian agent," he began. "The Democrats vowed... to present a further 'comprehensive report' after they finished their investigation into Trump’s treasonous collusion with Russia. For some completely inexplicable reason, after the implosion of their Russia hoax, the Democrats failed to issue that comprehensive report."

"This episode shows how the Democrats have exploited the Intelligence Committee for political purposes for three years, culminating in these impeaching hearings," Nunes added. "No conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats... Clearly, these ludicrous accusations don’t reflect committee members who are honestly searching for the truth. They are the actions of partisan extremists who hijacked the Intelligence Committee... and turned it into a beachhead for ousting an elected President from office."

Nunes began listing theories long held by Democrats about Trump's nefarious actions, including the claim that he himself is a Russian agent. He also highlighted claims that the Trump campaign thrived on stolen documents, was assisted by Russia, was blackmailed by Russia, and that Trump was laundering Russian cash through his real estate ventures.

"It’s a long list of charges, all false," Nunes said. "You have to keep that history in mind as you consider the Democrats’ latest catalog of supposed Trump outrages."

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Nunes also called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., for proceeding with impeachment without bipartisan support, despite making promises to seek the cooperation of both parties.

"The key figures behind this impeachment crusade — all proclaimed that impeachment is so damaging to the country that it can only proceed with bipartisan support," he said. "Are those declarations suddenly no longer true? Did impeachment become less divisive?

"Of course not," Nunes continued. "They know exactly what kind of damage they’re inflicting on this nation. But they’ve passed the point of no return."

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Nunes' comments came as European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland acknowledged a "potential quid pro quo" situation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson,” Sondland said Wednesday. “And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians.” He stressed he never got a clear answer on why the aid was held up, saying in the absence of an explanation he came to believe that the aid and the investigations were linked.