Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, will leave Congress at the end of the month and become the CEO of Donald Trump’s new media venture, which is set to launch TRUTH Social, a Twitter rival, in 2022.
The 10-term Congressman was chair of the House Intelligence Committee during the Trump administration and spent much of his time in that role defending the twice impeached president against various inquiries. Trump rewarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2021 and now the top job at his nascent internet venture, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG).
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
The SEC and other federal regulators are currently probing the announced merger of TMTG with a shell company.
If the GOP takes back the House in next year’s midterms, Nunes was in line to become chair of the Ways and Means Committee. “By stepping down,” notes The Washington Post, “he would be potentially giving up what is considered the most powerful committee gavel.”
But Nunes re-election was far from assured. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Nunes faced almost impossible odds in being re-elected to the Central Valley district that his family had farmed for three generations. A new map emerging from an independent citizens’ redistricting commission was almost certain to flip it from a district Mr. Trump won handily to one President Biden would have won.
California law would have allowed Nunes to run in a different district – there’s no in-district residency requirement – and he would have likely been able to generate significant money for a campaign bid. Thanks in large part to his constant presence on conservative media, Nunes raised nearly $27 million dollars for his 2020 race.
But Democrats have been highly motivated to end Nunes’ political career, raising millions to fund his ouster. Ultimately, the 48-year-old chose to enter the private sector.
“The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship. The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream. I’m humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world class team that will deliver on this promise,” Nunes said in a statement.
The Post reports:
By leaving Congress before his term ends, Nunes will set up an early 2022 special election for his seat. According to state election law, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) must call a special election within 14 days of Nunes leaving office, and a primary must be held 18 to 20 weeks later. The top two vote-getters in the primary would head to a general election, meaning that the Nunes seat could be vacant until midsummer.