U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes – one of President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters in Congress and a sometime lightning rod for criticism for the House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election – will help Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers raise campaign money Monday in Spokane.
The California Republican will speak at a $250-per-person luncheon at the Spokane Club. He serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, although he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the election after a trip to the White House in March 2017 to discuss documents regarding Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Nunes released a statement Tuesday saying he was coming to Spokane “to make sure my friend Cathy McMorris Rodgers gets re-elected.”
McMorris Rodgers faces what could be the toughest re-election campaign of her career with a challenge from Democrat Lisa Brown, a former state senator and WSU Spokane chancellor. They share the Aug. 7 primary ballot with two other Republicans and a candidate who calls himself a “Trump Populist.” (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the date of the primary.)
“Cathy is a key conservative voice for her constituents at the leadership table, and she represents the best in our party,” Nunes said in the statement.
Nunes has cast doubt on the FBI investigation into possible Russian interference with the 2016 election, contending agents obtained warrants to monitor Page based on information from an unreliable source who had been hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign without fully notifying judges of its origins. Heavily redacted documents released over the weekend by the Justice Department showed the FBI had additional information, but that release has ratcheted up the debate rather than settling it.
Democrats have said it proves the FBI was justified in monitoring Page. Nunes and other Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have pointed out the documents don’t identify Clinton by name – they also don’t name Trump – and have called for unredacted documents to be released.
Nunes also complained about news coverage of the documents, claiming “certain members of the press” work for the Democratic Party.
Jared Powell, a spokesman for the McMorris Rodgers campaign, said Nunes was coming to Spokane because he’s a leader in the House on intelligence issues and at the forefront of national security issues, which are of interest to the Eastern Washington district.
Asked if McMorris Rodgers agrees with Nunes on issues regarding meddling in the 2016 election, Powell replied: “She’s said publicly she thinks the Russians meddled in the election.” But while she thinks there is clear evidence of meddling, she’s not convinced yet there is evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, he said.
She supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but wants it concluded as quickly as possible, Powell said.
Like Nunes, McMorris Rodgers is a strong supporter of Trump on many issues, including tax cuts and lifting government regulations, Powell said. She’s disagreed with him on others, including tariffs and a recent proposal to sell the Bonneville Power Administration.
Brown called Nunes “a curious choice” for a campaign visit to Spokane.
“He’s a controversial California congressman,” she said. “I’m not sure how that answers questions that I’m hearing from voters.”
The top issue she’s hearing is health care and its rising costs, followed by education, Brown said. Concerns about the integrity of elections come up at candidate forums, primarily regarding the upcoming elections.
Members of Fuse Washington, which describes itself as the state’s largest progressive organization, said they plan a protest outside the Spokane Club. Brown said her campaign won’t be taking part.
“We’ll be getting out the vote for the primary,” she said.
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