Who is Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman?

Who is Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman?
Source: AP
Source: AP

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) invigorated President Donald Trump's ongoing controversies Wednesday by alleging the Trump transition team's communications were intercepted by government surveillance. 

How did Nunes land himself squarely in the spotlight?

The veracity of the chairman's vexed assertion has been called into question by top committee Democrats who said they weren't informed before Nunes took his claims to the press and the president, according to CNN. The decision led many Democrats to question Nunes' ability to lead the ostensibly independent committee, which is currently tasked with overseeing an inquiry into Trump's ties to Russia. 

Even top Republicans like Sen. John McCain expressed concern over the GOP's ability to properly investigate the matter. The House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff — who had not been briefed on the intelligence Nunes spoke of — was another vocal critic, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A number of journalists echoed the politicians' unease, arguing Nunes' statement was somewhat nonsensical. 

Yet Trump didn't miss an opportunity to announce his partial vindication with regard to his baseless claims that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the election.

Suffice it to say, Nunes has placed himself in the center of the media storm — both with the controversial nature of his announcement and his decision to bypass his committee in delivering the news.

Who, exactly, is Nunes?

A California native, Nunes comes from a long line of farmers and eventually bought his own farmland with his brother. He entered politics at the young age of 23, getting elected as one of California's community college trustees.

Nunes has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2003; his current constituency is California's 22nd congressional district, in central California. He's chaired the Intelligence Committee since 2015 and also serves as a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Further injuring Nunes' credibility is his former involvement in the Trump transition team, which he defended during his news conference.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called for an investigation into Nunes following the latter's announcement.

"[Members of the House Intelligence Committee] are privy to information that most members of Congress may never see and so you expect them to be extremely confidential," Cummings said Thursday on CNN's New Day.

"What he did was basically to go to the president — who's being investigated by the FBI and others and by the Intelligence Committee — to give them information," Cummings added. "Basically, what he has done is he has scuttled and put a cloud over his own investigation and he has become the subject, basically — he should be — of an investigation."