Looks like Devin Nunes has a secret hobby.
Politico reported Sunday that Nunes, the California representative who chairs the House Intelligence Committe, is behind fake news website the California Republican. Currently, carepublican.com is down for business and the site redirects to a Facebook page that blames the outage on "heavy traffic" and hacker attacks.
You can, however, see headlines from the site on its Facebook page. The site, along with Russian bots, pushed the hashtag #releasethememo in response to the four-page memorandum written by Nunes and released to the public, against the wishes of both the FBI and House Democrats, on Feb. 2. The memo alleges that the FBI's ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia "relied on politically motivated or questionable sources." The Democrats have a memo of their own rebutting the Nunes Memo, but the White House has refused to declassify it for release to the public.
Most of the stories on the site are not about Nunes. But the power to self-publish and to bypass the mainstream media would hold special appeal for a lawmaker who has long complained about “fake news” and “anti-Trump, anti-Republican” coverage.
Nunes has come under intense scrutiny for his handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Last month, the editorial board of the dominant newspaper in Nunes’ district, The Fresno Bee, called Nunes “Trump’s stooge,” accusing him of “doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.”
In response to negative coverage, Nunes has cast himself as a victim of media smears. He told radio host Rush Limbaugh last week, “Almost every story is fake news. … Almost every story that runs about me is fake. I mean, it’s unbelievable the stuff that is out there.”
He added, "Democracy does die in darkness. The problem is, is the darkness is emanating from the mainstream media themselves. I mean, they refuse, they absolutely refuse to cover the truth. They don’t want to cover it.”
The website was registered to Alex Tavlian, a communications consultant, but according to small print at the bottom of the site, it was paid for by the Nunes campaign.
When Politico asked for comment, Anthony Ratekin, Nunes’s chief of staff, said, “Until Politico retracts its multitude of fake stories on Congressman Nunes, we will not go on the record.”
An earlier version of this post incorrectly included a photograph of Rep. Matthew Gaetz, a Republican from Florida. The author blames face-blindness and an inability to tell Republicans apart. She regrets the error.