If today’s fiasco, which came courtesy of House Intel chair Devin Nunes, wasn’t enough to convince anyone that he can’t conduct a credible investigation into whether or not Trump and his teams colluded with Russia, then this should be: Nunes has put almost his entire net worth into a winery with strong ties to Russia.
How strong? Well, the Alpha Omega Winery has distributors all over the U.S., but just a few abroad. One of those overseas distributors is the Luding Trading Company in Russia. Luding is, in fact, Russia’s largest distributor for alcoholic beverages. But they don’t just operate in Russia – they also appear to have a relationship with Vladimir Putin:
“The Luding Company and the Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka factory sent greetings to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, on his 55th birthday and made a birthday present of bottles of the Noy, the Sovereign 55 cognac and the Vanatur and Varpet unique 1952 vintage wines, 1952 being the President’s birth year.”
If Russia were truly a free, democratic state, then maybe this could be overlooked as nothing more than a large company wishing the leader of a country that had given them so much a happy birthday. But Russia, under Putin, is anything but truly free. With Luding being the country’s largest distributor of alcohol, it’s highly unlikely that Putin doesn’t have his fingers in it somewhere. The fact that Nunes has his money sunk there is a pretty big deal.
It’s also odd that Alpha Omega Winery would have a relationship with Russia’s largest distributor when they only have a relationship with one Western nation (Switzerland). They don’t have any relationships with any other distributor in the EU, which means no relationships with NATO allies at all.
Then there’s the fact that Nunes is one of the people Trump called upon to refute news about the whole Russia scandal. That right there compromised the House’s investigation into Trump and Russia because it blurs the lines between the intelligence community, the White House, and Congress.
And Nunes actually did what Trump asked him to – he started sending messages to reporters challenging the Russia stories. As the chairman of the committee investigating the Trump-Russia tie, he should never have done that.
It appears more and more likely that Nunes was never acting independently in this investigation. And given that he’s got business ties to Russia—tenuous or not—he should have recused himself from this investigation the instant it got underway.
Featured image by Win McNamee via Getty Images