MSNBC panelist John Heilemann asked two different guests on Monday whether they believe Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) is now a Russian agent.
Nunes came under heavy criticism from"Morning Joe" on Tuesday after the House Intelligence Committee, which Nunes chairs, voted on party lines to release a memo alleging FBI misconduct in its surveillance of former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Critics argue the move has been opposed by the Department of Justice and undermines the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Heilemann prefaced his query to Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) by saying that under any other circumstance, it would be a "ridiculous and absurd" question.
"Is it possible that the Republican chairman of the House Intel Committee has been compromised by the Russians? Is it possible that we actually have a Russian agent running the House Intel Committee on the Republican side?" Heilemann asked.
Murphy stammered in his response.
"I-I-I-I hope that's not the case," he said. "I certainly have no information to suggest that it is."
"Doesn't his behavior speak of that, though?" Heilemann asked. "I mean, I'm not the first person who's raised this. He's behaving like someone who's been compromised, and there are people in the intelligence community and others with great expertise in this area who look at him and say, ‘That guy's been compromised.'"
Murphy said he didn't have that expertise and there are Republicans who simply act instinctually in defense of Donald Trump.
"I don't necessarily know that there's another explanation," Murphy said.
Later in the show, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on the program and Heilemann repeated the question.
"Congressman Nunes, your chairman, it is suggested not by me but by people who follow these matters closely, could he possibly be someone who has been compromised by the Russians?" Heilemann asked. "Is that something that you consider a possibility?"
Swalwell said he couldn't speak to Nunes' motives but that he had been "compromised by the White House."
"He certainly seems to be willing to risk the republic to protect the president, to risk the rule of law to help the president's case in the Russia investigation," he said.