WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of his most outspoken congressional allies, California Rep. Devin Nunes, as he looks to reward loyalists with just over two weeks left in his term.
Nunes, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has been an ardent backer of Trump's during probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the president's 2019 impeachment by the Democratic-led House.
In a statement, the White House credited Nunes with uncovering “the greatest scandal in American history," referencing Nunes' efforts to discredit the Russia investigation.
U.S. intelligence agencies and multiple congressional committees concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of boosting Trump’s candidacy. Several Trump aides and associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, were convicted or pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the course of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Flynn, among others, was issued a presidential pardon last month.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established by President John F. Kennedy, is meant to recognize those who have made an “especially meritorious contribution" to national security, world peace or ”cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
The award comes as Trump has been rewarding supporters with the perks and prestige associated with serving on a host of federal advisory boards and commissions before he leaves office on Jan. 20.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the GOP leaders trying to undermine confidence in the results of the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden, is expected to receive the award next week. Trump’s intent to present the award to the lawmakers was first reported by The Washington Post.