Republican Congressman Devin Nunes claimed that Democrats were “trying to obtain nude pictures” of Donald Trump in a bizarre exchange during a hearing on Thursday.
Nunes made the accusation during an appearance from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire regarding a whistleblower complaint aimed at Donald Trump. The complaint claimed that Trump took several actions to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into the son of Joe Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 rival.
During questioning on Thursday, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee instead accused Democrats of trying to secretly work with Ukrainians to obtain naked pictures of Donald Trump.
“Democrats on this very committee negotiated with people who they thought were Ukrainians in order to obtain nude pictures of Trump,” Nunes said. “People can reasonably ask why the Democrats are so determined to impeach this president when in just a year, they will have a chance.”
While Nunes did not specify exactly what he was talking about, it appeared to be a reference to a prank call that Russian comedians made to House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff in 2017, claiming that they had nude images of Donald Trump. As the Washington Examiner noted, Schiff believed he was speaking to Ukrainian politician Andriy Parubiy, but it was really a prankster claiming to offer damaging evidence of Trump’s behavior during his 2013 visit to Russia for the Miss Universe contest.
A spokesperson for Schiff said that he reported the call to law enforcement, telling them he believed it was a prank.
“Before agreeing to take the call, and immediately following it, the committee informed appropriate law-enforcement and security personnel of the conversation, and of our belief that it was probably bogus,” a spokesman for the Democrat said.
On Thursday, Maguire discussed the process that went into releasing the whistleblower complaint and explained why he did not release it to Congress within the legal time frame to do so. Maguire said that the White House counsel’s office reached out to him once the complaint reached him, saying that the documents appeared to involve executive privilege.
Here's Devin Nunes accusing Democrats of trying to obtain nude pictures of Trump pic.twitter.com/pRF7UHijpq— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 26, 2019
Maguire said this went beyond his power to resolve, making it take longer to release it to Congress. Maguire pushed back against questions of whether he was trying to protect Donald Trump.
“I am not partisan and I am not political,” he said. “I believe in a life of service and I am honored to be a public servant.”