Rep. Devin Nunes: 'Tough luck' if impeachment witnesses were upset that Trump was going around them in Ukraine

This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," November 17, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello, America. I'm Mark Levin. This is Life, Liberty & Levin, with the great Devin Nunes. How are you, sir?

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF.: It's great to be back on your show.

LEVIN: It's a pleasure. Your second time. You were the second guest originally; we've only had two guests twice. But what you're doing is very, very crucial to the nation. We're at a grave point in this country on whether you can impeach a president of the United States basically for anything. Let's start at the beginning. Who sets American foreign policy for the executive branch?

NUNES: Well, despite what the State Department may think and what many congressmen and senators think, the president of the United States sets the policy. It's very clear.

LEVIN: Under Article II, he makes the nominations for ambassadors; he welcomes the ambassadors from other countries. He sends -- he negotiates treaties, sends them to the Senate; he's commander-in-chief. Now, tell me if I'm right or not. Last time I checked Article II, there's not a State Department in there.

NUNES: That's correct, and one of the points that I made last week very clearly is that you can -- the president can hire and fire at any time for any reason. There is nothing in the Constitution or anywhere else. The president decides who is representing him overseas.

LEVIN: Who's representing him overseas? Let's talk about this a little bit. You had -- let's talk first about what took place Wednesday. You had two witnesses. Honest to God, I don't even know why they were there. These are two longtime bureaucrats who disagree with the president's policies when it came to Ukraine. They thought that Ukraine should have a ton of money, get it right away, really with no conditions. The president of the United States is concerned about these corrupt regimes, and by the way, not just Ukraine. All over the world, it's the same practice, is it not?

NUNES: Well, the president was very clear that, I think, on foreign policy, he did not like money that we were spending overseas on anything. Okay? I mean, he's very supportive of having a strong defense, but I think that made a lot of Republicans, even including myself back in the day -- “Well, does this guy really know what's going on here?” You know, some of these global institutions like NATO, they do serve a purpose. But, you know, thank God. Look at what he's done. Finally, what he was pointing out is that -- and I think somebody had told him, “Hey, NATO is only paying one percent. They're supposed to pay two percent of their GDP into the till.” Guess what? Now, finally, countries -- the president is very clear he won't take meetings. He doesn't want our State Department or our defense department working with these European countries and others that are part of NATO unless they have a plan to get to two percent. So, this whole talk about bribery, extortion, quid pro quos -- the president ran on these issues, and as far as he was concerned, when you -- I know we're going to get to Ukraine, but Ukraine is a corrupt country. It's been a corrupt country. There was no signs out there, and there are still very few signs that Ukraine is, like, on the mend. Right? You essentially just had a change of a candidate supported by some oligarchs to now a candidate supported by new oligarchs. It doesn't mean we're not looking forward to helping Ukraine to be a -- move into a better democratic and transparent government. But the president had every right, and matter of fact, the Congress actually stipulates that we can't be giving money to corrupt countries. So, the whole idea that we'd be sitting Congress going through an impeachment inquiry really makes no sense, and I'll just, you know, finish with this point. You talked about bringing in these ambassadors who the president has the right to fire at any time, like I just said. But these ambassadors were upset that the president somehow was going around them. Well, tough. Tough. And if you really look at it, I think the startling thing to me, when we've been sitting down for six weeks now in what we call -- we jokingly call the star chamber down in the basement of the Capitol, armed guards, two doors; all the transcripts are being put into the top-secret classified computer system -- you know you can't make this up, which is -- of course, they accuse Trump of putting these calls into the top-secret computer system. So, we're putting these depositions into the top-secret computer system. And you sit back, and you think about it. I mean, this is -- it's like a cult down there, and then you've got all these media freaks that are sitting just a hundred feet outside, just waiting for every word, you know. Then what happened over the last six weeks? They leak something out, and then they leak something out. And we kept coming out of there saying, like, look, we understand there's a policy disagreement. People in the State Department didn't like that the president had a special envoy; they didn't like that the EU ambassador was going over to Ukraine. They didn't like that Rudy Giuliani was investigating what was happening in Ukraine. But tough. Tough luck.

LEVIN: It's --

NUNES: The president gets to make those calls.

LEVIN: This phrase, “irregular channel.” The Democrats, the bureaucrats, are trying to create the impression with the American people that something irregular is taking place. We have a regular channel, which are the policies being pushed by the bureaucrats at the State Department, and an irregular channel, the president's special envoy. Now, just for historical purposes, virtually every president has had special envoys using this irregular channel. George Washington had John Jay, went around Jefferson. One of the most famous was Franklin Roosevelt. I know the left loves him. He had Harry Hopkins, who actually lived in the White House, negotiated with Stalin and Churchill and others, infuriated the bureaucracy at the State Department. Since the president sets foreign policy for the executive branch, don't we have this reversed? That is, isn't it the State Department that's doing the irregular things when they defy a president's policies?

NUNES: Well, not only that; you had so many problems in Ukraine. So, the Democrats -- they hate to admit this, but their sources for the Fusion GPS company that they were paying to dig up the dirt on Trump that ultimately made its way into the FBI -- there were Ukrainian sources there. Okay? So, they were paying people to go into Ukraine and dig up dirt. Some of this dirt came from high-ranking Ukrainian officials, allegedly. But what we do know is there was another DNC operative that was working with Ukrainians, and the Ukrainian ambassador in Washington, D.C., publicly trashed the Trump campaign, which is almost unheard of for an ambassador, a sitting ambassador, to side with one party over another in Washington, D.C. Now, look, none of the ambassador corps, just like no one in the media, thought that President Trump was going to win, but I only know of one ambassador that actually publicly came out against the Trump campaign in 2016, and that was the Ukrainian ambassador, who was working very closely with DNC officials. So, what's just amazing is the Democrats continue to say, “Oh, it's -- this is some kind of conspiracy theory that Ukrainians” --

LEVIN: Wasn't it in Politico? Wasn't it in The New York Times?

NUNES: [laughs] It was in all of their -- it was in all the news media that they liked at the time, and, yeah, they try to run from that very quickly. And so, the fact that Rudy Giuliani would be in Ukraine or talking to Ukrainians about, “Hey, where's this dirt that's being dug up on my client?” Okay? It would be a dereliction of Rudy Giuliani's responsibilities as the personal attorney to the president while he's under investigation by Mueller -- remember, we spent three years with this Mueller nonsense? He had every right and a responsibility to be over there. I was also interested in Ukraine. I say, as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as part of our investigation into FISA abuse and other matters, we were trying to figure out, where was Fusion GPS getting this dirt; what Ukrainians were they; are they legitimate? We were doing that as the legislative branch of government. Senator Grassley was also -- had sent letters asking for information on what were these DNC operatives doing talking to Ukrainian government officials and how did that information ultimately make its way to the FBI? So that Mueller can run his investigation. These are all very important points. And so, this whole idea that you're going to try to impeach the president because his lawyers over in -- or not, literally, in Ukraine, but trying to figure out what Ukrainians were feeding dirt into the FBI. I think it's a very relevant thing for his attorney to be doing.

LEVIN: Well, let me --

NUNES: And, in the process of all that, you end up with the Bidens, you know, looking them up or --

LEVIN: -- [unintelligible] get to them in a minute. The President of the United States reads about this stuff, too.

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: -- in liberal news outlets. 2016, Ukraine did what? The headline in Politico said they tried to sabotage his campaign, their word, "sabotage" by very liberal reporters including this guy Kenneth Vogel, who now works for The New York Times. The Attorney General's Office, the official Department of Justice of the U.S. attorney for Connecticut are investigating this.

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: They're investigating it.

NUNES: And the origins of the Russia --

LEVIN: Legal origins of the Russia interference in election, which I thought the left and the Democrats wanted to get to the bottom to. But it seems like they bifurcate it. Trump collusion, which there was none, and then everything before and they don't want to hear about.

NUNES: Right.

LEVIN: When you sit there, day-in and day-out of the Intelligence Committee, and you listen to Schiff and these others trying to twist the Ukrainian scandal into an impeachable offense against the victim of the Ukrainian scandal, that is the President of the United States --

NUNES: Yeah.

LEVIN: -- this must drive you a little crazy.

NUNES: Well, it's a bit like Groundhog Day because, you know, they just switched, like, overnight, right? It was like a light switch. They went from, you know, if Republicans talk to Russians, we -- every Republican had to be investigated that talked to any Russian at any time. Now, all of a sudden, you just flipped. Now, any Republican who talked to any Ukrainian, at any time, has to be investigated. I mean, it's --

LEVIN: I'm in trouble then. You know why?

NUNES: You can't even -- you can't even make it up.

LEVIN: My distant ancestry is Russian and Ukrainian.

NUNES: Well, see, you --

LEVIN: I'm no fan of either, by the way.

NUNES: You should come in and testify. [laughter]

LEVIN: I have as much to say that's relevant as the witnesses they're bringing before the Intelligence Committee. I'm going to tell you something. I've watched these witnesses. They're long on resumes. I learned a lot about their grandparents, and their wives, and so forth and so on. I learned nothing, firsthand, factual, whatsoever, nothing. So, the question becomes when will they have any firsthand witnesses? You know, Senator Johnson has sat in on one of these meetings. He was on this program, sitting in that chair --

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: He said the President of the United States never, ever said anything like they're saying he said. He wanted to -- he said, "I don't know about them. They've been corrupt. I don't know about this new president. I don't want --" -- he would say the same thing as [unintelligible], whether it's NATO, they need to pay up. He changes policy on North Korea. He's changed policy on Syria; policy, for the better, on Israel. He's looking at Ukraine. He wants to change policy there. Within 24 hours of this Mueller thing being over they switched to Ukraine. You think that's part of the strategy?

NUNES: I do. I think that they were, you know, they had been looking at this for a while. And I don't think -- they just didn't make this up about a phone call. I think there was -- and then, when that aid was withheld, that was their club that they were going to use, right? That was the card they decided to play. And I think they were desperate. Because you're right. Because they imploded. And I said this in my opening statement on Wednesday. They imploded. The Democrats imploded and, I mean, in spectacular fashion with the Mueller Report. I mean, even the left-wing media outlets were bashing them. Now, I think, to some degree, they were -- they didn't want to talk about the truth, which, what was Mueller actually doing there for two years, and what really happened, who was really running the show because it was clear that Muller, himself, wasn't running the show. So, I think it was a bit of a coverup just to throw this thing under the rug and move on. And so, I think there were very hardcore partisans. And if you look at the -- at least at who is -- some of the people who we believe could be this whistleblower, even though we have -- we don't know because we've never been given the name, if you look at some of those names, they're all connected. They're all connected even back to the Russia hoax. So, I think you had people that were very disappointed, very upset. And then, on July 25th --

LEVIN: [affirmative]

NUNES: -- you had someone that gets mad, calls all his buddies that were involved in the Russia hoax, and then they concoct this scheme. They go in and they talk to the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. They, then, get advice, get a lawyer, go to the IG, here's how we'll do this. And if you look at the news media, that's what was being written.

LEVIN: I want to ask you about this as soon as we return. We'll be right back.

[commercial break]

LEVIN: Congressman Nunes, we're a little confused. I read this whistleblower statute. The so-called whistleblower, who we can never name, and we can never see testify, apparently, is not a whistleblower. According to the whistleblower statute, he's not a whistleblower. He's not covered by the whistleblower statute. The president's not covered by the whistleblower statute. The phone calls not covered by the whistleblower statute. And anonymity goes to the Inspector General, who the Intelligence Community, he's supposed to keep the name secret with two exceptions. The president has -- is not required. Congress isn't. And, for God's sakes, you're in an impeachment proceeding.

NUNES: Yeah.

LEVIN: This is the key witness that they brought forward whose name cannot be identified. Now let's not play the games. The New York Times knows who it is. I've said the name on my radio show. I've told this individual and his lawyers, "If I'm wrong, come on, tell tens of millions of people I'm wrong, and you're not it." But they don't. I watched these hearings. And if you even tiptoe close to even using the phrase, "whistleblower," they shut you down. Something's wrong here.

NUNES: Something's really wrong. So -- anyway, and we keep bringing it up in the hearings. So, if you really think about this for a second, they're not laying any evidence on the table for impeachment. Right? I mean, if they're going to come with articles of impeachment, at some point they'd better come up with evidence, and I think they've -- I hate to -- well, they won't be watching this show anyway, so I don't want to give them any advice. But my advice to them for next week is they need to start laying some evidence down on actual articles of impeachment. And, you know, I don't know what the hell they're thinking, because the whistleblower will have to come forward if they actually go through and impeach this president. There is no way that they'll be able to continue to hide the whistleblower, and so the challenge that we have is we truly don't know at the end of the day. People speculate who the whistleblower is, but until we see the actual documentation, and that person comes into the Intelligence Committee -- there's no problem. They can come in. You know, we have -- that's why we have these SCIFs. That's why we have private locations that we can go meet that are secure. There's a reason that we have an Intelligence Committee. So, this individual could come forward, could come talk to us, could answer all of our questions, and it makes no sense -- it doesn't pass any normalcy test, any type of common sense test that the -- ultimately, the American people are not going to buy this. So, now, do we believe that the Democrats on the committee don't know the name of this person? No, I think they definitely know the name, and they probably have known this person for a very long time. But to keep it secret from the American people and to continue to not show evidence, and you're trying to impeach the president of the United States, I just don't think this is going to work for them. It's not going to end well, in my opinion.

LEVIN: Let me ask you about the media in this respect.

NUNES: My favorite subject.

LEVIN: Yes [laughs], mine too. The media printed the Pentagon Papers. They print -- I mean, the reason you all on the Intelligence Committee have a SCIF is to keep it from the media, which would give it to the public, give it to international -- so, the SCIF is there to keep information from those who provide us with information. Have you ever seen a situation where such a key individual in such a key event is protected by the media, and doesn't that demonstrate just how partisan the media have become?

NUNES: It is. It's real evidence. You want to talk about evidence; it's real evidence. I mean, I call them corrupt media for a reason. They've become corrupt; they're assassins for the left, and they're really stupid and bad at it, too. But, you know, I just -- you know, I advise all my colleagues, you know, until there's a free and fair press in this country, which we don't have right now, we shouldn't be talking to them, because all it does is it aids and abets the enemy, and they are doing tremendous damage to this country. So, they're developing the content of which they know who this whistleblower is. In any normal situation, they'd be outing the whistleblower in a heartbeat, but likely it's even worse than that, because likely many of these people have known this whistleblower for a long time because he's probably been leaking, would be my guess. And if you look back on, you know, some of the names that are out there, it's clear that, you know, information is coming from somewhere from within the NSC, and, you know, that should be investigated, and there should be an investigation. And, you know, that's one of the things the president has got to do, is -- you know, the NSC is way too big, and a lot of the problems have come and the leaks have come from within the NSC that he's been dealing with, whether it's been, you know, fake information for the Russia hoax, or now this information that's likely coming -- dealing with this whistleblower. If you look at the -- one of the people that's going to testify this next week, it's also someone that worked at the NSC. Having four or five hundred people there that are coming from these bureaucracies --

LEVIN: Four or five hundred are in there?

NUNES: Yeah.

LEVIN: Holy mackerel.

NUNES: Coming from the bureaucracy that are essentially -- you have to imagine the people that were left over there -- because everybody thought Clinton was going to win, so the bureaucracy -- everybody was trying to get in there. These are -- a lot of them have to be Clinton Democrats. They wanted to be in there. And so, I'm certain now a lot of them are out, but that's one of the struggles that we've had even dealing as Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, trying to deal with the NSC and have a relationship there. And we should be working with them closely. It's very difficult because there's a lot of partisan Democrats that have burrowed their way into the NSC, and it's, I think, caused a lot of problems for the president.

LEVIN: When we come back, I want to ask you about that phrase in the Constitution in the impeachment clause and what people are saying about it and what it means to you. Folks, don't forget, you can join us on LevinTV most weeknights by calling us at 844-LEVINTV, 844-LEVINTV. We'd love to have you. Or go to; It's the perfect gift for the holidays, by the way. We'll be right back.

[commercial break]

Aishah Hasnie: Live from America's News Headquarters, I'm Aishah Hasnie in New York. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inviting President Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry. No response yet from the White House except for Mr. Trump's claim that Republicans are being denied, quote, “due process.” In the coming days, Democratic lawmakers are expected to call several key witnesses to testify, and that includes Gordon Sondland, Mr. Trump's ambassador to the European Union. He is considered a vital witness because he had direct conversations with the president. Meantime, deadly protests erupting across Iran over the government's sudden decision to hike gas prices by 50 percent. Iran's supreme leader now warning of a potential crackdown. The White House says it supports the Iranian people in peaceful protesting. I'm Aishah Hasnie. Now, back to Life, Liberty & Levin.


LEVIN: DEVIN NUNES, impeachment. One other interesting thing is how little the clause is discussed, including on the Intelligence Committee, which, of course, is supposed to be dealing with intelligence. But it hasn't really been discussed in the Judiciary Committee. And when I watch television legal analysts, they say, "Impeachment is whatever the House says it is." And they'll typically cite Gerald Ford. Why don't we go to the framers and cite them? They took a lot of time on this clause. They argued whether it should be a high standard, a lower standard, just leave it to elections, they're not judges, after all, it's a lifetime appointment. So, they came up with this language. And the language doesn't mean what a lot people think it means in contemporary English. Like, a misdemeanor: that doesn't mean jaywalking.

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: They looked at English common law, and they looked at the practice of British Parliament. They looked at the practices in the colonies. And they debate and they came up with this standard: treason, bribery, high-crimes, and misdemeanors. Now, the Democrats think they have figured this out. Not treason, not high-crimes, misdemeanors. Bribery; in fact, extortion. Now, the American people understand what extortion means. I just want to say this and then I want your input. That's not what the framers say. The reason the word bribery is in there, it's right there in Madison's notes. They were concerned that a president not be bribed by a foreign country, not receive a payoff and then his loyalties would be to another country. They had certain individuals during the Revolutionary War who switched sides.

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: This is a brand-new country. They're creating the presidency. That has absolutely nothing to do with what they're talking about here and the President of the United States. Nobody's buying off the president and Ukraine, giving him money to buy his loyalties. What do you make of this whole area of impeachment?

NUNES: I always look at this: what do people out in, like, real America think --

LEVIN: Your district?

NUNES: -- about this? Yeah, like my district in the heartland of California, the ag area. I think people would understand that impeachment is for something that they see as really, really bad, right? Like a high-crime. So, you know, clearly, even though Nixon was not impeached, there was a challenge because there was a break-in, there was something that went wrong. People could see that. They recognized it. There was a --

LEVIN: Coverup.

NUNES: -- coverup. And it was really the coverup, so much, because I don't think, at least from history, Nixon didn't know about the --

LEVIN: Right.

NUNES: -- initial break-in. When you look at the Clinton impeachment, he had lied to a grand jury. Pretty serious stuff. If you or I lied to a grand jury, we're in big trouble. So, but, in this case, they're manufacturing this. That's why I called it the other day, I called it the "mother of all conspiracy theories." They are manufacturing a narrative out of nothing. And they really have nothing. Because if you're going to do articles of impeachment, you have to be very, very clear about, okay, "Here's the law that was broken, American people. And here's all that evidence. Here's all the firsthand witnesses that we have to go in, and look at this, and look at this evidence. And here's the other articles of the impeachment." That's what they should be building, okay? They're not doing that and they're not going to have the support of the American people for this, which is why they didn't get one Republican to vote for the inquiry after they had been operating for six weeks and with a phony inquiry. And, look, I said this in the last segment, but they better be careful what they wish for here, because when it gets to the Senate, if they impeach, the game's on. And these people are going to have to come testify.

LEVIN: Let me ask you about your --

NUNES: The whistleblower --

LEVIN: Yeah.

NUNES: -- Adam Schiff.

LEVIN: You think they'll get Schiff?

NUNES: I don't know how he -- how does he not -- how does he decline --

LEVIN: [inaudible]

NUNES: -- the invitation? He's a foundational fact witness in this. You know, what did his -- what did he or his team know, and when did they know it, about this whistleblower? It's really important to get to the --

LEVIN: No, we have Republican --

NUNES: -- origin of the thing.

LEVIN: -- we have Republicans in the Senate who don't understand the law that they voted for, or they wrote. This whistleblower statute, which was updated at the '80s -- and they're even saying, "Well, we don't want to know who that is. We don't want to know. They ought to keep it secret." If you have an impeachment hearing, you're trying to remove the President of the United States.

NUNES: Right.

LEVIN: We have an election in 11-and-a-half months. They're trying to remove a President of the United States, at least theoretically --

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: -- during the course of a general election, where they want to take the decision away from the American people and impose it on them. It is a monumental grave thing to do. The Constitution trumps any statute where any other so-called statutory interest. I -- it is simply inconceivable to me that key witnesses and key information would be concealed during the course of an impeachment trial.

NUNES: Right. And if you want to just be -- something smells about this, right? Because it was -- it's very easy. There's an Intelligence Committee for a reason in the House and the Senate. For something like this, if there really is something somebody that's holding classified information, if they were an undercover officer of some kind -- which this person is not, according to the IG -- it's easy to come down, protect the identity, and give us all the information. The fact that they won't even do -- take that little step is, I think, even a more of an indication that there are problems with this whistleblower and it's why they won't bring this whistleblower forward.

LEVIN: Do you think, in part, if you get the whistleblower, you get Schiff? So, Schiff is covering the whistleblower to cover himself?

NUNES: And/or his staff.

LEVIN: All right. We'll be right back.

[commercial break]

LEVIN: Congressman Nunes, you know, historically, impeachment, even fraudulent impeachments like this, they're handled in the Judiciary Committee. Apparently, Nadler and the Judiciary Committee screwed up. At least, Nancy Pelosi thinks they did.

NUNES: Yeah.

LEVIN: You know --

NUNES: We haven't seen him.

LEVIN: Where is Nadler?

NUNES: He's in the witness protection program [laughs]. I don't know where the hell he's at --

LEVIN: Yeah, exactly.

NUNES: -- but we haven't seen him.

LEVIN: Maybe that's a good thing. Anyway, you're in the Intelligence Committee. There's a lot of dangerous things going on in the world. We've got China --

NUNES: There are --

LEVIN: -- on the move; we've got Russia on the move; Iran with its nukes.

NUNES: China; North Korea.

LEVIN: We've got all kinds of things going on, and this is the epicenter in the House of Representatives that's supposed to truly be overseeing our intelligence, our intelligence agencies, and, to some extent, law enforcement agencies, foreign policy to some extent. With Nancy Pelosi handing this to the Intelligence Committee, this is undermining our ability to make sure intelligence activities are working properly. No?

NUNES: Yeah. So, what's happened here is that you have a lot of their members that are, I think -- I don't want to label people, but they're product of the ‘60s -- late ‘60s, early ‘70s, and they have Watergate fantasies. And so, when you look at the way that our committee, the Intelligence Committee, was staffed up, I was chair; we were really focused on China and a lot of matters around the globe. They didn't staff up to monitor these intelligence agencies. They brought on people that were prepared for impeachment. So, they've had these Watergate fantasies for a while, and they had -- now, of course, they were counting on Mueller to really deliver the goods. So, we've been having to deal with that, where this has been an impeachment committee from -- matter of fact, our first meeting when I brought the Republicans in at the very beginning of this year, I said, “Guys, this is -- we've got to understand, this is not going to be the Intelligence Committee any longer.” I know it's been frustrating because we had been working on the Russia hoax for two years, but that at least dealt with DOJ, FBI. There were overseas issues, I mean, so we were actually, you know, the right place to do an investigation on that. But it just never stopped, and once it faded from Russia, and that blew up in their face, and then they converted this over to Ukraine, it was constant -- you know, even Mueller imploded, they said, “Well, Mueller just didn't describe it right. If you really read what's in the Mueller report, this is really going to -- we're really going to be able to get the president.” So, you know nearly all of the members on the House Intelligence Committee Democrats have called for impeachment over the last couple years. But I think what people should be concerned about here is that the intelligence committees were created for a reason, and that was to oversee these big bureaucracies. Now, they do very dangerous work; in many cases, they do very good work. And they've, you know, just recently been able to track down the leader of ISIS and to make sure that he was brought to justice, and that's what the American people should expect us to do, is to make sure that we're putting the resources that are needed to these agencies at exactly -- you know, what are the priorities of the Congress, right? Because we represent the people. That's not happening. That is not happening. I had to get my own separate briefing before the raid in Syria a few weeks ago. I had to get my own separate briefing for myself and a few of the members -- Republican members -- because they're not -- the Democrats aren't having any briefings. Now --

LEVIN: Oh, they're not interested in it?

NUNES: We haven't had a briefing that I can recall -- in the last three months, maybe we've had two, because we had one --

LEVIN: [unintelligible] --

NUNES: Because we had one. One I can remember is we had one after the raid in Syria.

LEVIN: Have you had any briefings, without details, on Russia, what Russia's done?

NUNES: Not that I can recall.

LEVIN: And yet they say they're worried about Russia.

NUNES: Now, we've had these publicity stunts that we've done out in the open that are -- you know, the Mueller hearing, that sort of thing. But, no, we have had very few actual briefings. The Republicans have to essentially do the briefings on their own. We have to call people in or go out to the agencies to get these briefings.

LEVIN: But you're telling me there's not a routine scheduled briefing to say what's going on in Iran, what's going on with China, what's going on with Russia, that sort of thing.


LEVIN: So, nobody in the House is doing it.


LEVIN: That is shocking.

NUNES: Yeah.

LEVIN: What if we get hit again on a 9/11 and so forth and so on? And then everybody's going to be pointing fingers at everybody.

NUNES: Yeah, and they'll look at the House Intelligence Committee and say, “Oh, you guys weren't even briefed. You didn't have meetings.”

LEVIN: Because if --

NUNES: Look, I'm trying to -- on the Republican side, we're trying to do all we can do on our own, but remember, we don't control the schedule. We don't control the gavel, so all we can do is call in and get our own separate briefings, and we're trying to do that as a committee. But, look, this is pretty intense to turn the Intelligence Committee into the impeachment committee, which really should be run in the Judiciary Committee where you have lawyers, you have precedent, you have all the right things in place in the public. But to turn a committee that's supposed to be made up of members who are holding the nation's most important secrets and working with very -- working with patriots, really, and trying to making sure you're holding them accountable -- because we're the only ones that get to see into these black books, so to speak. And to not be doing that work is not only wrong, but it's -- at the end of the day, it's dangerous. To not have the House of Representatives engaged into these agencies is how agencies go rogue, and if you recall, we had to spend -- well, we're still spending time. Now we have a U.S. Attorney out of Connecticut looking at the counterintelligence capabilities that were abused over the last three years, maybe longer. And so, nobody's doing that work today.

LEVIN: What also strikes me is, how do you put together a budget for the intelligence agencies if you don't know what the hell they're doing.

NUNES: Exactly.

LEVIN: Ladies and gentlemen, don't forget, you can check us out on LevinTV, LevinTV, most weeknights. Give us a call at 844-LEVINTV to sign up -- 844-LEVINTV -- or go to We'll be right back.

[commercial break]

LEVIN: DEVIN NUNES, during the course of the hearings, the Democrats have attacked you and the other Republicans for attacking the Department of Justice at FBI. How do you respond to that?

NUNES: Well, they always do -- what I said the other day is they -- whatever they're doing, they actually accuse you of doing, right? So, everything that -- they say everything that we say, it's always a conspiracy theory. And one of the scary things is that they have -- not only are they not coming to terms on what they were doing in Ukraine, that they had Democratic operatives working with Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Trump, they refuse to acknowledge what the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney out of Connecticut continue to look into, okay? And that is FISA abuse, other matters, the origins of this Russia hoax investigation that's a complete hoax. And, you know, I think the book's been sitting here during the entire show that -- Lee Smith's new book that he just wrote.

LEVIN: The book is, "The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman DEVIN NUNES Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History."

NUNES: And the first time I was on the show with you, this is what we were talking about.

LEVIN: Yeah.

NUNES: And I will say that this book is what the Democrats and the left, they don't want you to read this because once you read this, you'll understand. Lee Smith did a very good job. And I know you featured him on your show, and you follow his writing. But he did a very thorough job of covering some important aspects that they don't want out. One is, he ties together some of our work, along with some of his investigative work that's new, that Steele didn't really write the dossier, for example; the Democratic operatives were really involved. Secondly, right up your alley, is he weaves in just how corrupt the media was and how they were in on everything. And it's a real-life way to understand, in modern times here, how the corrupt media worked with the left, worked with the bureaucracy. And the fact that these guys refuse to -- and still refer to it as a "conspiracy theory," that somehow the counterintelligence capabilities in this country weren't weaponized to target a political campaign, is astonishing, astonishing.

LEVIN: Isn't it also astonishing that the media have thrown in, with the high levels of the Intelligence agencies, highest levels of the DOJ, and the FBI? You know, we used to say the media was supposed to watch government. And, you know --

NUNES: [affirmative]

LEVIN: -- Big Government, abuse of government. They're part of it. Isn't that what we've learned?

NUNES: They're definitely part of it. And if you remember, one of the important steps that we had to take, because we were the -- we were one of the few committees that had the power to do it. And that was, we had to expose the counterintelligence malfeasance that was occurring in the FBI. So, we had to put out a memo, remember that? Thousands and thousands of stories and comments about how the Republicans were destroying this, destroying that. And what we really find out now: everything that we said at that time was 100 percent accurate. Everything that the Democrats and the media said, at the time: 100 inaccurate.

LEVIN: The book is, "The Plot Against the President," and -- Lee Smith. It is a great book. When we return, how is it that Barack Obama escapes all scrutiny when it's his administration that is responsible for the vast majority of this? We'll be right back.

[commercial break]

LEVIN: Congressman Nunes, it's amazing to me, Obama escapes all scrutiny, including by the media, on the Russia scandal. That must irk the hell out of you.

NUNES: I don't know how he gets away with it, quite frankly, because what we call the -- jokingly call "the Obama dossier," and even after the famous Steele dossier, you know, he really started all of this, right? Because they were running this counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Then, right after the election, they decided they were going to blame, you know, fake news. And then, of course, Trump took that [laughs] and turned it back on them. And then, they concocted this scheme to have the Intelligence agencies, which they only picked three of them, to go out and do a special report about how the Russians really wanted Trump to win. And that was all done in the last few waning days of the Obama administration. So, we know -- the only thing we don't know is we don't know who, exactly, was briefed in the White House and at what time they know. But, for sure, you know, we got the text messages that show there was some involvement in the summer of 2016, that they knew about this counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. It's -- at the end of the day, it'll -- it will depend on who is held responsible by the U.S. Attorney out of Connecticut, if he's able to put together an actual criminal case or if he's only able to give us all the facts. Until that time, I think it's going to be hard for us to know how deep was Obama's involvement. But, for sure, he created the fuse and lit the match after the election. That's how we ended up with this, what we've been dealing with now for three years.

LEVIN: I want to thank you. We wouldn't know most of what we know today about the Russia hoax but for you. You came under attack, including under attack by your colleagues in the Senate. It was a disgrace. So, thank you very much.

NUNES: Just remember, if they're not attacking, we're not over the right target.

LEVIN: All right, brother. Thank you. See you next time on "Life, Liberty & Levin."

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