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Nunes Leaving Congress for Trump Firm  12/07 06:13

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who was one of 
former President Donald Trump's most ardent loyalists in Congress, is leaving 
the House at the end of this year to join Trump's fledgling media company.

   A statement Monday from the Trump Media & Technology group said Nunes would 
serve as chief executive officer, beginning in January 2022. The company is 
preparing to launch a social media platform intended to rival competitors, 
including Twitter, which blocked Trump's account in January following the 
deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol.

   In June, Facebook suspended Trump's accounts for two years, following a 
finding that he stoked violence ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

   "Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from 
destroying the freedoms that make America great," Trump said in a statement.

   Nunes' decision comes at a time when his political future in California 
appeared in possible jeopardy -- draft maps released in the once-a-decade 
realignment of congressional districts suggested he would face a challenging 
reelection in the 2022 midterms. Those maps will not be finalized until later 
this month.

   Nunes, 48, said in a statement: "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."

   Trump's decision to select one of his most pugilistic defenders to oversee 
his new media group -- instead of a seasoned business leader -- makes clear 
that he intends to use the company for political benefit as much as for profit.

   Trump talked up the hire when he called into his former press secretary's 
show on the conservative Newsmax channel Monday evening.

   "Devin is a fantastic guy. I think that he will do a an incredible job," 
Trump told Sean Spicer. "We're proud of him. And I think it's got a chance of 
being a very important day."

   Nunes also is a harsh critic of mainstream media firms. He sued CNN and 
Twitter for defamation, among other companies, seeking hundreds of millions of 
dollars. Both cases were thrown out by judges.

   Trump announced the launch of his media company in October. The company says 
its plans include the creation of "Truth Social," a Twitter-style social media 
app, as well as a subscription-based video streaming service that will feature 
entertainment programming, news and podcasts. Trump is listed as the company's 
chair.

   Trump's media company and Digital World Acquisition announced over the 
weekend they had agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional 
investors.

   The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory 
Authority are looking into the deal. Digital World Acquisition Corp. launched 
on the U.S. stock market three weeks earlier with the sole purpose of finding a 
privately held company to buy.

   Nunes is the top Republican on the House intelligence committee and was the 
panel's chairman before Democrats won the majority in 2018. He launched the 
committee's investigation into Trump's ties to Russia along with California 
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel who is now its chairman.

   Soon after they announced the probe, though, Nunes became one of Trump's 
most forceful defenders in Congress. In early 2017, he visited the White House, 
reviewed documents there and then held a press conference saying that 
communications involving Trump associates had been swept up by U.S. spy 
agencies and were mishandled by former President Barack Obama's administration. 
After an uproar, the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate the visit 
and determine whether he had leaked classified information.

   The ethics panel cleared Nunes a year later, but Nunes had already recused 
himself from the Russia probe.

   After a contentious investigation that Democrats claimed was biased in 
Trump's favor, the Intelligence committee found that Russia interfered in the 
election but that there was no evidence of coordination between Trump's 
campaign and Russia.

   Nunes was also in the spotlight as he ardently defended Trump through 
Democrats' 2019 impeachment inquiry, which was led by Schiff and the 
intelligence panel.

   In early 2021, two days before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Trump 
awarded Nunes the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a statement, the White 
House credited Nunes with uncovering "the greatest scandal in American 
history," referencing Nunes' efforts to discredit the Russia investigation.

   In a statement, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called Nunes an 
"American patriot" said there is no person "better ... prepared to compete 
head-to-head and lead an alternative to the Big Tech and big media cartel that 
has carried water for the Democrat Party for years."

 
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