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Devin Nunes' resignation from Congress marks the end of an error

As he resigns from Congress, Devin Nunes' job will change, but his responsibilities may not be that different.


Eight years ago, as House GOP leaders struggled to deal with their most far-right members, one House Republican blasted the conservatives' intransigence. It would not be enough to describe these Republican hardliners as "lemmings," the GOP lawmaker said in 2013, "because jumping to your death is not enough" for them. He added that it made more sense to label them "lemmings with suicide vests."

It was around the same time that congressional Republicans shut down the government as part of a partisan tantrum in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. This same House Republican spoke up again, calling his party's strategy "moronic."

By 2015, this GOP lawmaker was so at odds with his party's far-right flank that some conservatives described him as a "RINO" — a derisive acronym for "Republican In Name Only."

The congressman's name was Devin Nunes of California.

It seems like ages ago, but there was a time at which Nunes was seen as a relative Republican moderate on Capitol Hill who often seemed uncomfortable with his party's radical direction. Then Donald Trump took over GOP politics, at which point Nunes dramatically overhauled his political persona, becoming a sycophantic lackey to his party's new leader.

Even some of Nunes' colleagues came to believe the Californian was working more for Team Trump than his constituents. Now, as NBC News reported, the congressman is formalizing that arrangement.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., one of former President Donald Trump's most loyal defenders, is leaving Congress to become CEO of the Trump Media and Technology Group, NBC News confirmed Monday.

Some of the initial reporting yesterday suggested Nunes had decided to retire in order to lead the former president's media company. That wasn't quite right: The Republican congressman is actually resigning and will give up his seat later this month.

This was not an expected move. With the GOP favored to take back the House majority after next year's midterm elections, Nunes, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was slated to lead the House Ways and Means Committee — one of the chamber's most powerful and sought-after positions.

His most recent campaign finance report showed Nunes with nearly $12 million cash on hand, further suggesting the Republican was preparing to run for re-election.

He's nevertheless giving up on his electoral career, at least for now, to become the CEO of Trump's new media entity. What does Nunes know about overseeing a media company? At first glance, nothing, though the outgoing congressman has been prolific in filing weird lawsuits against Twitter, the Washington Post, McClatchy, CNN, and Hearst Magazines, among others.

Perhaps he plans to build on that.

What's more, Nunes' job will change, but his responsibilities may not be that different. The GOP congressman has spent the last several years working for Trump and pushing a pro-Trump message via conservative media to Trump's followers.

As CEO of the Trump Media and Technology Group, the Republican appears likely to do more of the same.

That said, Nunes' new job might be a bit more difficult than he realizes. NBC News reported yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating one of the companies involved in Trump's recently announced social media deal. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which typically investigates things like insider trading, is also scrutinizing the entity.

Best of luck in the new gig, congressman.