Intel’s next top House Republican is plotting a sharp turnaround since Trump

Rep. Mike Turner, a new high-ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, wants to turn the page of the commission’s party history. It’s time for him to work.

For four years, the committee has been a chaotic microcosm of addiction that dominated Donald Trump’s presidency, in part due to the former Rep. Devin Nunez (California) sycophancy in support of Trump. Now that Nunez has left Congress and the Intelligence Commission, lawmakers on both parties are hoping that the bitter fighting with the GOP side led by Turner can end, who at times sever ties with the ex-president and is generally more independent than the man who he changed. …

But it won’t be easy for Turner, who has to contend with lingering Trump-era tensions both inside and outside the committee’s safe workspace in the basement of the Capitol.

The Ohio resident hopes to restore inter-party relations undermined by a politically motivated commission investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and her subsequent prominence in Trump’s first impeachment. However, the group’s reorientation of its original mission of empowering the intelligence community requires Republicans to reckon with the lightning rod status that current Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) Retains on the right.

It’s an atmosphere that Turner himself contributed to. Turner signed a 2019 letter calling for Schiff’s ouster, but has repeatedly refused to support the Californian Democrat’s resignation in an interview this week – a possible sign of detente.

“It is obvious that Adam Schiff is not going to radically change himself. And that will definitely be a complicating factor, ”Turner said in an interview with POLITICO. “But in terms of national security, I have good experience of working across the aisle and trying to promote what is important to our country. And I’m going to continue like this. “

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy chose Turner to replace Nunez, who earlier this week resigned from Congress to take over as CEO of Trump’s new media venture.

Turner, 61, generally avoids the press, but is known for his sometimes belligerent interrogation of witnesses, as well as his penchant for corroborating neoconservative foreign policy doctrines that Trump’s allies have sought to gut and replace with a populist, isolationist worldview. When Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson suggested in November that the United States should not side with Ukraine in its territorial disputes with Russia, Turner faced the conservative icon live.

“Apparently you need a little knowledge about Ukraine,” Turner. said Carlson. “Ukraine is a democracy. Russia is an authoritarian regime that seeks to impose its will on the legally elected democracy in Ukraine. And we are on the side of democracy. “

The exchange stressed that, in essence, Turner’s ascent represents at least a partial departure from Trump’s tumultuous years on the committee.

“I think it will become clear who on the committee is committed to the transition to national security and who is more committed to the guerrilla spirit promoted by Schiff,” Turner told POLITICO magazine this week, focusing on external threats from Iran to North Korea. “There are real opponents, and we need to focus on them.”

Turner praised Nunez for his work in investigating the Russia case for the Republican Party. However, he has shown a desire to move beyond a period when Republicans often ignored or avoided questions about Trump’s more volatile tendencies, as well as his campaign’s repeated contacts with Russian citizens.

“I am entering a time when our external adversaries pose the greatest threat to our country, and I am convinced that as a country we will focus on them and will be at our best," Turner said, adding that Nunez rejects “completely false stories” about Trump.

Schiff Communications Director Lauren French said: "Even though it was necessary to investigate the former president’s activities, the Committee continued to fulfill its immense responsibility of overseeing the intelligence services and ensuring the country’s security."

“Our work will continue with the new member and we hope it will be productive,” added French. “We will not allow false personal attacks to distract us from the important affairs of the committee.”

Nunez was Trump’s loyal foot soldier on Capitol Hill and a confidant of the ex-president. However, in his final months in Congress, Nunez dropped out of the committee, skipping hearings and briefings, while obstructing the passage of the bipartisan intelligence permit bill, which the commission had long prioritized.

Democrats and Republicans alike say they expect Turner to be much more proactive than Nunez, given his interest in the committee’s core responsibilities – mainly overseeing the intelligence community.

“I think this year is a good chance for Mike and Adam Schiff to reboot their relationship,” said former Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), a former committee member who retired from Congress in 2021.

“I have a lot of respect for Mike Turner,” said Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the commission who is considered by some Republicans to be Schiff’s potential successor. “He gets to the core of national security in a way that I think is really … good. And I know he is committed to it. I was sad to see [Nunes] somehow move away. “

Turner’s new position is unlike any other team leader role; The Ohio Republican will join the so-called Gang of Eight, a group of high-ranking lawmakers dedicated to top secret information. The group includes party leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as leading Democrats and Republicans on intelligence committees in both houses.

In the committee room, however, Republicans believe the hard work of reestablishing the group’s bipartisan character is likely to require a complete leadership reshuffle that will replace Schiff as well as Nunez. There have been discussions within the GOP over the possible expulsion of Schiff from the intelligence committee if Democrats lose their House majority this fall, despite Turner’s reluctance to consider the prospect.

While Republicans seem more serious about the exclusion of yet another member – Rep. Eric Swalwell, Calif., Another popular scarecrow of his political opponents – Schiff will not leave the table if he takes on this again. the role of the committee. But any move against the Democratic group after the midterm elections would undoubtedly risk returning the committee to a party war.

And that’s not how Turner, first elected in 2002 as mayor and trial attorney, tends to play his hands. GOP peers believe he is willing to try to restore the group’s bipartisan reputation, with or without Schiff leading his Democrats.

In this he will be helped by outbursts of independence from Trump, with The Ohioan condemning the then-president’s infamous 2019 telephone conversation with the Ukrainian president, which provoked impeachment proceedings. Earlier that year Turner criticized Trump for “racist” tweets about four women legislators of color, in which he said they must “return” to the “crime-ridden places where they came from.”

After their battle interview, Carlson followed Turner on Twitter to vote against Trump’s proposal to challenge Congress by redirecting funds to the southern border wall, which were originally allocated for military construction projects.

While he is willing to fight back prominent Conservatives, Turner is also willing to set the Democrats on fire. During a recent appearance on Fox News, Turner called Schiff “largely discredited” and accused him of promoting a “Russian hoax” – a favorite phrase of Nunez – for political purposes.

Turner said the Californian Democrat “turned the committee that was dedicated to protecting our national security and intelligence community into a vendetta against the Trump family and even the Trump campaign.”

Nunez-like language aside, those who have worked with Turner believe he will turn sharply to the panel’s previous legacy.

“This committee is really important and powerful, and it has a lot to do with why we live the way we live,” said former Rep. Tom Rooney (from Florida), who worked with Turner on the intelligence committee. “And I think it’s better to be a special committee again that works well together.”

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