People in the embattled House Intel chair’s California district are cutting him some slack amid Trump-Russia turmoil

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Devin Nunes

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, the Republican leader of a bipartisan congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, has himself become the story over the last week.

Nunes has been roundly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats
for what his fellow lawmakers have deemed “very strange” behavior
amid the investigation – in which he has apparently transitioned from bipartisan ally on the committee to someone who has
“gone off on a lark by himself,”
as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put it to NBC on Tuesday.

Nunes’ constituents in his home district in California’s Central Valley are standing by him,
Politico reported on Wednesday night
. Nunes represents the 22nd congressional district, a farming region roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. He has held the office since 2003.

According to Politico’s David Siders, citizens in Nunes’ district are largely displeased not with Nunes’ actions of late in Washington – their grievance is with people who are grilling him.

A local radio host said of the backlash against Nunes: “The way he’s being lambasted and barbecued right now, how much worse can it get?”

Nunes’ grilling
began last week
when it was learned that he, through an anonymous source, had become privy to information unrelated to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia inquiry. The information Nunes later revealed in a handful of press briefings and interviews allegedly showed some members of President Donald Trump’s transition team had been scooped up in possible surveillance activities after the election.

Adam Schiff Devin Nunes

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

(L to R) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The revelation threw the committee for a loop, as
Nunes withheld the information and his source from his colleagues
.

“I have no idea what it is he knows, but the Devin I knew doesn’t do this type of stuff normally,” Nunes’ former press secretary Johnny Amaral said according to Politico. “And if he does … I can only surmise that it’s something big.”

Another local
told Politico
that Nunes deserved the benefit of the doubt: “I haven’t seen anything that’s really given me pause yet … I have no idea the way it works in the intelligence community.”

Nunes’ bombshell revelations last week appeared to ease Trump off of his ongoing, debunked allegation that President Barack Obama had eavesdropped on his operations during the election. That has lead some critics to wonder whether Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, had been improperly cooperating with an administration that is under federal investigation.

Jason Chaffetz town hall

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

A person shouts to Rep. Jason Chaffetz during his town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

Bucking the trend

The support Nunes appears to be receiving back home stands in contrast to the reception other Republican lawmakers have encountered in their home districts in the last couple of months. The Trump administration racked up controversies in rapid succession following the inauguration, leading to swift blowback in Republican congressional districts nationwide.

The backlash,
marked by raucous town hall meetings and protests
, pitted some GOP representatives against angry voters upset with the Trump administration’s
then-pending moves to dismantle the Affordable Care Act
, and Trump’s frequent breaks from presidential tradition, like his refusal to publish his tax returns.

Back in Washington, however, Nunes’ behavior has not afforded him much goodwill. Republican and Democratic leaders
have asserted that he has lost his credibility and is no longer fit to lead
the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia-Trump investigation.

For his part, Nunes says he’s not going anywhere,
asserting on Wednesday
that the investigation will happen “with or without” Democrats.



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