“My party is set to crush the opposition in the next election and make me one of the most powerful politicians in America” isn’t typically the posture for a retirement. Especially for a pol who’s not yet 50 years old.
But Devin Nunes has three reasons to quit. One: He’s a Republican in an indigo blue state and is at risk of being redistricted out when Democrats in California’s legislature redraw the House map.
Two: Congress is increasingly an awful place to work and by no means the ultimate prestige job in a party that now exists to own the libs rather than set policy.
Three: Big money potentially.
Nunes wasn’t just set to rejoin the House majority in 2023. He was lined up to chair the most powerful committee in Congress:
Nunes was about to Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Unbelievable.
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) December 6, 2021
Ways and Means is in charge of writing tax laws. Congress’s “power of the purse” is wielded in no small part by that panel. And Devin Nunes gave up its gavel to pursue the notably unspecified “new opportunity” mentioned in his letter.
Or did he? David Drucker notes that his path to reelection was about to get complicated: “The decision comes as drafts of the California redistricting map indicate Nunes would have to either run in a different district or run for reelection in a district that flipped from favoring former President Donald Trump by 5 points to tilting in the direction of President Joe Biden by 9 points, according to the Cook Political Report analysis.” Democrats hate Nunes for his work on the House Intel Committee when Trump was president and have raised gobs of money to try to beat him in elections, but with no luck. Ultimately, the blunt force object of redistricting gave them the tool they needed to convince him to quit.
He’s not going to serve out his final year in office either. It turns out that “new opportunity” he mentioned is becoming CEO of the Trump company developing MAGA’s answer to Twitter, “Truth Social”:
President Donald J. Trump, Chairman of TMTG, commented, “Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of 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.”
Congressman Devin Nunes added, “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.”
If you’re a Republican in 2021, what sounds better? The drudgery of writing America’s tax legislation, knowing that your bills will be vetoed by a Democratic president until 2025? Or becoming one of the top cronies to the man who owns the Republican Party, giving you all the media exposure you could want, access to corporate cash, and potentially a cabinet position if Trump gets reelected in three years?
Do you want to be a lawmaker or do you want to be at the cutting edge of populist trolling? The question answers itself.
The rollout of Truth Social has been predictably messy. When the platform was announced, the announcement contained no actual business plan. Trump being Trump, it likely won’t be staffed with high-quality talent, potentially making it vulnerable to hacking. It’s already run into a problem by relying for its source code on a company called Mastodon. Mastodon insists as a condition of its license that the client make the source code publicly available, which Truth Social wasn’t doing initially. Then, late last week, Truth Social missed its own deadline to release a beta version of the platform to invitees.
Meanwhile, the SEC just announced that it’s investigating Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that Trump’s social media company plans to merge with. When news broke that DWAC would become the publicly traded vessel for Trump’s project, its shares skyrocketed from around $10 to $175. (It’s currently in the mid-40s.) How many shares are owned by Trump and his family are unclear but I’m guessing the number is substantial. Despite the fact that no one believes Truth Social will be a high quality product, DWAC has already raised $1 billion from a suite of unknown investors. Again, Trump being Trump, in all likelihood the chief purpose of the venture with DWAC is simply to provide a vehicle through which rich people can buy access to a once and possibly future president. Remember how diplomats would rent rooms and hold events at Trump’s hotel in D.C. to grease his palm so that he might do them a political favor when they need one? DWAC and Truth Social may be a more ambitious version of the same thing, funneling cash through “investments” in this case instead of via hotel bills.
And Devin Nunes, one of the most unquestioning Trump loyalists in government, is giving up the potential chairman’s role on the Ways and Means Committee to be the front man for it. He’ll fit right in:
of course, there are prohibitions on negotiating jobs when you are a member of Congress. https://t.co/tkTnPP0eyW
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 6, 2021
By the way, his soon-to-be-vacant seat probably won’t be filled until summer, giving Pelosi a bit of extra breathing room in the first half of next year in trying to move legislation through a narrowly divided House. I hope Nunes is at least making bank from all this.