California Rep. Devin Nunes, who used his position as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee to defend President Donald Trump from a host of investigations and one impeachment proceeding, announced Monday he was leaving Congress at the end of the month to be chief executive officer of Trump’s nascent media business.
The news was first reported by The San Joaquin Valley Sun.
“Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG,” Trump said in a news release, referring to his company, the Trump Media & Technology Group. “Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great. America is ready for TRUTH Social and the end to censorship and political discrimination.”
Nunes said in the same release that he was “humbled and honored” that Trump had asked him “to lead the mission and the world class team that will deliver on this promise.”
Trump had already rewarded the congressman with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts to defend the former president.
Both Trump and Nunes have made criticism of the media and social media companies a consistent rallying cry. Trump has billed his planned social media platform, Truth Social, as a counterpoint to what he says is censorship by technology giants.
Nunes once sued Twitter over a parody account, Devin Nunes’ Cow, for defamation. A federal judge ruled in 2020 that Nunes could not sue over the account because Twitter is covered from such actions by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants broad leeway for parody and the satirizing of public figures.
Redistricting and ranking members
Currently in his 10th term representing a Central Valley district, Nunes had been facing a tough decision about reelection. A nonpartisan redistricting commission in California, which lost a seat in reapportionment after the 2020 census, released a preliminary map that would have likely forced him to run in a less GOP-friendly district.
Nunes was next in line in seniority and is a prolific fundraiser, parlaying his defense of Trump into a staggering $26.8 million cash haul during the 2020 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He’ll leave with more than $11.8 million in his campaign account, one of the biggest totals in the House.
But Nunes would have had to give up his position as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee to take the helm of Ways and Means.
Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, who is next in line in seniority on Ways and Means after Nunes, has already expressed interest in running for the top GOP post. And Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith, who is next in line after Buchanan, is also in the running.
On the evening of Jan. 6, following the Capitol insurrection, Buchanan was among the Republicans who voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election, saying at the time that he did so “after witnessing the sad spectacle” and “because it’s time to move past this election.”
Republicans will need a new ranking member on the Intelligence panel to replace Nunes. That decision is typically made by leadership. Potential candidates include committee members Michael R. Turner and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio and Chris Stewart of Utah.
David Lerman and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.