Devin Nunes has been a pitbull for the president, growling at the prosecutors investigating Trumpworld. Now an event that Nunes himself attended is under Mueller’s microscope.
The Special Counsel’s Office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are scrutinizing a meeting involving former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and dozens of foreign officials, according to three sources familiar with the investigations.
The breakfast event, which was first reported by The Daily Sabah, a pro-government Turkish paper, took place at 8:30 a.m. at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18, 2017—days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration. About 60 people were invited, including diplomats from governments around the world, according to those same sources.
The breakfast has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan as part of their probe into whether the Trump inaugural committee misspent funds and if donors tried to buy influence in the White House. The existence of that probe was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The Special Counsel’s Office is also looking at the breakfast as part of its investigation into whether foreigners contributed money to the Trump inaugural fund and PAC by possibly using American intermediaries, as first reported by The New York Times. Robert Mueller’s team has asked Flynn about the event, according to two sources familiar with the Special Counsel’s Office questioning.
Nunes, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, has been perhaps Trump’s most important congressional ally over the last two years. After serving on Trump’s transition team, Nunes became a vigorous defender of the president against federal and congressional inquiries. The California Republican pushed a misleading memo alleging misconduct in the FBI investigation of Trump’s associates that the bureau said contained “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Now Nunes—a key figure behind the right-wing counter narrative that Trump is at the mercy of a “Deep State” conspiracy—finds at least one meeting that he himself attended under the special counsel’s scrutiny.
The breakfast gathering took place the night after the Global Chairman’s Dinner—one of the inauguration’s most exclusive events, set up so the incoming president can meet the foreign diplomatic corps. Some of those who attended the dinner also attended the Trump Hotel breakfast, two individuals with direct knowledge of the events told The Daily Beast. Country officials invited to the breakfast included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Japan, Angola and others. Former Kazakh Ambassador Kairat Umarov attended the breakfast, as did two senior Qatari officials.
Pluvious Group, a consultancy that raised money for the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, helped with the event’s organization, according to two sources with knowledge of the breakfast. The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“If you’re a prosecutor all of the right players are there,” said former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier, referring to the breakfast. “In a lot of ways breakfasts like this are totally normal. It happens all the time in Washington. So, they wouldn’t be investigating it if they weren’t following the money. The big question would be who is paying for it? It’s got to be part of the broader scheme of who is trying to use money to influence the White House.”
Nunes’ office did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A lawyer for Flynn declined to comment, as did the Southern District of New York and the Special Counsel’s Office.