Rep. Devin Nunes tried to explain away the embarrassing phone records showing several calls with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas by claiming the call or calls were with Parnas’ wife. Fox host Maria Bartiromo didn’t question a word.
Nunes: "I wasn't in Vienna" and "I never met with Shokin"
Nunes visited Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures show again on Sunday, this time to try to explain away embarrassing phone call records showing calls between himself and indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Naturally, Bartiromo ate up every word, no matter how dubious.
Since his chat with Bartiromo the week before, Nunes has added yet another lawsuit to a portfolio that includes suits against two Twitter parody accounts. This time, the target is CNN for reporting that Parnas’ lawyer alleges Nunes met with Ukraine’s former prosecutor Viktor Shokin in Vienna last year.
Unfortunately for Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee released phone records of Parnas during the week that showed several calls between the two.
You may recall that last week Nunes dodged Bartiromo’s yes or no question about whether he had been to Vienna:
NUNES: Yeah, so look, Maria, I really want to answer all of these questions and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions but because there is criminal activity here, we’re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, we’re going to fill all this, everyone’s gonna know the truth, everybody’s going to know all the facts, but I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to, trying to debate this out with the public media when 90% of the media are totally corrupt.
This week, Nunes did not explain what “criminal activity” had previously prevented him from talking nor why he could now. But he did bring along two photos of himself during his 2018 trip abroad, that he used for his latest lawsuit, supposedly proving he was not in Vienna during the time period in question. He did not provide any travel records. You’d think a simple passport would have done the trick.
Nevertheless, after showing the photos of himself in Benghazi and Libya - and without specifically saying whether or not he had visited anywhere else or with whom during that trip, Nunes said, “So I wasn’t in Vienna. I never met with Shokin and even Shokin says he doesn’t even know who I am.”
What about Nunes’ phone calls with Parnas?
It’s pretty clear that the Intelligence Committee only subpoenaed records of Parnas and Giuliani, and that Nunes’ calls turned up in that trove. Furthermore, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said that the minority Republican staff (Nunes is the ranking member on that committee) received notice of the subpoena and received the phone records. On MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Schiff said, “Republican members were made aware of the subpoenas that we were sending out. The Republican members were given the same phone records and other records that we received.”
So did Nunes and the Republican members just ignore the records? Why didn't they say anything until they were released in the Intelligence Committee's impeachment report? Predictably, Bartiromo didn’t ask. Instead, she went along with Nunes’ disingenuous suggestion that he had been spied on. “How did this happen that he got your phone records and released them to the public, to show the public who, in fact, you were talking to?” she asked sympathetically.
Bartiromo never seemed to care why Nunes had been talking to Parnas.
“He subpoenaed digits, basically,” Nunes claimed. “And then in there, once he had all this data, then he ran my phone number and pulled out my calls that I had.” How does Nunes know that? Bartiromo never asked.
“Him and his team, they don’t like the fact that we exposed them for the Russia hoax that they were involved in,” Nunes added.
“That’s right,” Bartiromo agreed.
You may recall that Nunes has previously provided dubious explanations for the calls with Parnas. During an appearance on the Hannity show, Nunes said it was “possible” he had spoken to Parnas and, two days later, Nunes seemed to admit to Fox host Martha MacCallum that he had spoken with Parnas but couldn’t remember what had been discussed. Now with Bartiromo, Nunes claimed he had talked to Parnas’ wife.
NUNES: I said this yesterday. I went through my records on Friday, okay? And very clearly, I got a call from a number that was Parnas' wife. I remember talking to someone and I did what I always do which is that if I don't know who they are, you put them to staff and you let staff work with that person.
NUNES: But we also checked, I'll even say this. We've checked all of our records. We have no information from Parnas. We have no documents. We have no -- we have nothing. We have no emails. So, there's nothing that we have in our control from Parnas. But you know who's working with Parnas if Parnas is such a bad guy? Adam Schiff is the guy working with Parnas. Adam Schiff and the Democrats are the ones that are talking to Parnas and Parnas' lawyers, not me.
Of course, if Schiff is talking to Parnas, it’s to get information his lawyer claims they have relevant to the impeachment inquiry, whereas Nunes was allegedly part of the scheme being investigated. Not surprisingly, Bartiromo did not note the difference.
As Vox pointed out, Bartiromo also failed to note that one such phone call between Nunes and Parnas (or his wife) lasted eight and a half minutes and that at least two calls were made by Nunes to Parnas (or his wife).
And guess what? Nunes is threatening yet another legal action.
Bartiromo called the situation “very concerning, obviously.” She meant for Nunes, nobody else. Then she asked, “what recourse” the California Republican has.
NUNES: So for sure, [California] state law, you cannot release somebody’s phone records. So for sure, that right has been violated. But we also have to look at the Constitutional aspects of this and do all the members of Congress have a right to privacy and can just one member, because he doesn’t like someone and he’s a political opponent of someone, can that member just subpoena records and then release just to embarrass or to create a distraction or to build whatever fantasyland narratve that they continue to build. Because remember, these guys jump from one phony narrative to another, OK?
Watch the lapdog interview below, from the December 8, 2019 Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo: