(CN) — Congressman Devin Nunes, a California Central Valley Republican who forged close ties with former President Donald Trump, will not run for reelection in 2022..
The congressman — who gained fame for playing defense in the Russia investigation involving whether Donald Trump’s financial ties to the autocratic country compromised his ability to represent the United States position in the two countries ongoing geopolitical tussle — is said to be taking a job in a Trump-related social media enterprise.
"Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in,” Nunes told constituents Monday. “I'm writing to let you know I've decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021.”
Nunes, 48, is slated to become CEO of the Trump Media and Technology Group, which claims to present consumers with an alternative to the censorship of right-wing views critics say are prevalent on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others.
"Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG," Trump said in a statement. "Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great. America is ready for TRUTH Social and the end to censorship and political discrimination."
The congressional seat Nunes will leave open, which encompasses a wide swath of the Central Valley including Fresno, would have historically remained safely in Republican hands, as the area was traditionally deeply red in a deep blue state.
However, California’s ongoing redistricting process could turn the district into a safely blue seat. Trump carried Nunes’s district by five points in 2020, but the new district could favor Democrats by as much as nine points.
The redistricting process could have factored into Nunes’ decision to leave Congress.
Currently the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes is one of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives and one of the most consequential members of the California delegation of either party.
He has been in Congress since 2013 but came to national prominence in 2017 when he bypassed his own committee and went directly to the White House with reports the FBI was investigating Trump for his Russian connections.
His efforts to undermine that investigation while defending Trump earned him the ire of Democrats but also led to an increased stature on the right. He was one of the most effective fundraisers for the GOP over the past couple of cycles.
“Devin had a spine of steel and an unyielding commitment to fighting for the truth and the Constitution as chairman and Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee.,” said Elise Stefanik, the GOP Conference Chair, in a tweet sent on Monday. “America is forever grateful."
Trump awarded Nunes the Congressional Medal of Honor two weeks before the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Nunes was thought to be next in line for the powerful chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee should the GOP retake the House in 2022.
Observers expected Nunes to hold on to the office at least through achieving this previously stated political career goal, but California’s redistricting combined with a lingering distaste for Trump in the Golden State made such a prospect more doubtful.Follow @@MatthewCRenda
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