Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., an ally of former President Donald Trump, is resigning from his congressional seat to become CEO of Trump's new media company that aims to launch its own social media platform.
Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, gained admiration from the right and scorn from the left as he defended the former president during the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
The California Republican will take the helm of the Trump Media & Technology Group next month, giving up his seat in the middle of his 10th term.
"Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in," Nunes wrote in an email to his constituents, according to the New York Times.
Nunes, a longtime critic of Big Tech who unsuccessfully tried to sue Twitter, could have faced new hurdles in a reelection bid. Draft California redistricting maps showed Nunes' district would very likely be harder for him to win in 2022.
In his public statement, he didn't mention any of that.
"The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship," Nunes said in a press release from the Trump Media & Technology Group. "The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream. I'm humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world class team that will deliver on this promise."
In October, Trump announced plans to form a public company that would launch the platform, called TRUTH Social. The entity would be formed by joining with a special purpose acquisition company, a shell company that raises funds simply in order to acquire or merge with a private company.
Many details of the venture remained unclear.
On Monday, the same day of the Nunes announcement, NPR reported that the shell company, Digital World Acquisition Corp., said in a filing that it is being investigated by federal regulators.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will call a special election to fill the remainder of Nunes' term once he leaves office.
While Trump praised Nunes in the company press release, California Democrats cheered his departure from Congress.
"Devin Nunes has long been an embarrassment to California," the party wrote on Twitter. "It's only fitting that he now leaves Congress to debase himself even further to Donald Trump."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.