Nunes has a long history of involvement with the intelligence community, and has served on the House committee since Barack Obama’s presidency.
In that capacity, Nunes used his platform to oppose Obama’s controversial Iran deal, which granted significant easing of sanctions in exchange for new restrictions on and monitoring of the Persian state’s nuclear activities.
In his time on the committee, Nunes also helped to lead the two-year investigation into the Obama administration’s handling of and response to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. That investigation found that there was no misconduct on the part of Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the issue remained a hotly-contested one up through the 2016 GOP primaries.
Now, Nunes plans to leave the position, and Congress altogether, to help lead President Donald Trump’s Media and Technology Group, a media venture founded by Trump in Feb. 2021.
In a statement, GOP Leader McCarthy announced his intention to replace Nunes with Rep. Turner.
Turner was originally appointed as part of the House Intel Committee in 2018.
In the past, Turner has been critical of the Obama administration’s posture on nuclear defense.
In 2012, Turner called for the construction of a multi-billion dollar missile defense site to defend against an Iranian nuclear strike on the U.S. homeland. However, others in Congress and the executive branch considered such an attack exceedingly unlikely, and the idea gained no traction.
In 2019, Turner stirred controversy with Second Amendment Republicans after he announced his decision to back a bill that would bar “the sale of military-style weapons to civilians,” after a 2019 shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
More recently, Turner sat on an intelligence subcommittee to analyze Trump’s comments to the Ukranian leader where he allegedly threatened to withhold aid from the Ukranian state without concessions. Turner called the conversation “not okay,” but opposed impeaching Trump, saying that impeachment efforts by Democrats were an “assault” on the electorate.
Speaking on his decision to appoint Turner as the GOP’s intelligence chief, McCarthy said that Turner’s “commitment to this country is unwavering.”
McCarthy continued, “Throughout his long tenure on the Intelligence Committee, Mike established himself as a national security leader and ardent supporter of truth.”
“Every American committed to the security and safety of this country should be well-assured of Congressman Turner’s leadership of the House Intelligence Committee,” McCarthy concluded.
Former intel chairman Devin Nunes also applauded Turner’s appointment to take his spot.
“For many years, Mike has been an extremely valuable fighter for House Intelligence Committee Republicans,” said Nunes. “He was instrumental in the work we did to expose the Russia collusion hoax, and he was a major asset in demolishing the Democrats’ ridiculous accusations during the first impeachment of President Trump.”
“I have every confidence Mike will be a fearless and skillful leader for Intelligence Committee Republicans and will perform rigorous oversight over the Intelligence Community,” Nunes concluded. “I congratulate him on his well-deserved appointment as Ranking Member.”
As ranking member, Turner is the heir apparent to take control of the committee in 2023, if Republicans take back control of the House.
While the GOP is fairly limited in what it can do while in the minority, if the GOP were to retake the majority, Turner could help to oversee a Benghazi-style investigation of President Joe Biden’s controversial Afghanistan withdrawal.
Despite substantial congressional inquiry, many questions remain unanswered about the administration’s decision to rapidly withdraw from the country, which left the fledgling U.S.-backed Afghan democracy on the ropes and left hundreds of Americans trapped in the country.