Former White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen warned on Wednesday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) may have opened himself up to obstruction of justice charges if he colluded with the White House to create a memo smearing the FBI’s Russia investigation.
The Daily Beast reported this week that Nunes has refused to deny that he worked with White House staffers while writing an allegedly misleading memo suggesting that the Justice Department acted improperly when it extended surveillance of former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page, who was thought to be a foreign agent.
“Whoa,” Eisen wrote on Wednesday. “Nunes’s speech and debate clause Congressional immunity may not protect him from liability for conduct outside Congress.”
He added: “Depending on the facts, Nunes may have put himself in middle of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. He better beware: There r no secrets in this White House.”
Whoa—Nunes’s speech and debate clause Congressional immunity may not protect him from liability for conduct outside Congress. Depending on the facts, Nunes may have put himself in middle of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. He better beware: There r no secrets in this White House https://t.co/wD1atYgtR3
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) January 31, 2018
The Congressional Immunity law states that members of the U.S. Congress can not be prosecuted while they are “attending a session of the body to which the member belongs, excluding an arrest for treason, breach of the peace, or a felony.”
The law also provides immunity from arrest or interrogation “for any speech or debate entered into during a legislative session.”
Neither of those provisions would seem to apply to members working with another branch of government to obstruct justice.