President Trump on Monday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who worked closely with the president in an effort to undermine the Justice Department’s Russia investigation and attacked Democrats during Trump’s impeachment hearings.
“Congressman Devin Nunes is a public servant of unmatched talent, unassailable integrity, and unwavering resolve,” the White House said in a statement. “He uncovered the greatest scandal in American history.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, another fierce supporter of the president on Capitol Hill, will reportedly receive the same honor later this week.
The award has historically been given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to American culture. Past recipients including Neil Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jackie Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin and Muhammad Ali.
Nunes, who helped run a family dairy farm before entering politics, has no comparable background but is a strong supporter of the president. He has taken some controversial positions, including a recommendation in March that Americans who are not ill with COVID-19 “just go out, go to a local restaurant. Likely you can get in easily.”
Trump, though, has used the Medal of Freedom to reward his political and personal allies. Last year the president awarded it to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host and one of his most vocal defenders.
Last month he gave one to Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame and University of South Carolina football coach and Trump supporter who frequently appeared on Fox News to support his reelection.
During the impeachment hearings, Trump praised Nunes, then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who had publicly accused the FBI and Justice Department investigators of seeking to discredit the president.
In a 2018 Fox News interview, Trump first floated the idea that Nunes receive the Medal of Honor, an award reserved for acts of military valor.
“What he’s gone through, and his bravery, he should get a very important medal,” Trump said.
He later corrected himself and suggested Nunes receive the Medal of Freedom.
“Devin Nunes’ courageous actions helped thwart a plot to take down a sitting United States president,” the White House said in its statement Monday.
“Congressman Nunes pursued the Russia Hoax at great personal risk and never stopped standing up for the truth,” the statement continued. “He had the fortitude to take on the media, the FBI, the Intelligence Community, the Democrat Party, foreign spies, and the full power of the Deep State. Devin paid a price for his courage. The media smeared him and liberal activists opened a frivolous and unjustified ethics investigation, dragging his name through the mud for eight long months. Two dozen members of his family received threatening phone calls — including his 98 year old grandmother.”
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