Rep. Devin Nunes, Republican of California, will resign from Congress at the end of this month to head former President Donald Trump’s new social media venture.
Nunes, a staunch ally of Trump, gained admiration from conservatives and scorn from Democrats for defending the former president during the investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Nunes will become the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group or TMTG next month, giving up his seat as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He was tapped to serve as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Republicans seized back the House in the midterms next year.
“Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in. 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,” he told constituents on Monday.
“Rest assured, I have not, by any means, given up our collective fight — I’ll just be pursuing it through other means,” he added.
Trump and his loyalists have spent the past year railing against Silicon Valley social media and tech firms, which they accuse of engaging in censorship. Twitter and Facebook both banned the former president following the January 6 assault on Capitol Hill.
TMTG, which is advertising itself as an alternative to Big Tech and a bulwark against liberals, plans to launch a social media app called Truth Social early next year.
“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.”
Nunes, who is doing his 10th term in Congress, became a lightning rod during the Trump presidency as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. In April 2017, he was forced to recuse himself from his own committee’s Russia investigation for revealing classified information.
Later, he emerged as one of Trump’s chief defenders on Capitol Hill when Democrats launched impeachment proceedings against the Republican president over allegations that he improperly sought help from Ukraine to boost his chances of re-election.
Meanwhile, Wall Street watchdogs said they were investigating Trump’s $1.25bn deal to float his new social media venture on the stock market.
In a regulatory filing disclosed on Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said they were probing Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that agreed to merge with TMTG.
The filing states that the SEC requested documents detailing Digital World’s investors and trading as well as its relationship with TMTG.