Following Michael Flynn’s resignation as the Trump Administration’s National Security Advisor, Democratic leaders are calling for further congressional action to address unanswered questions surrounding Flynn’s contact with Russian leaders.
In his CQPolitics Roll Call post “Democrats Want Probe of ‘Unfit’ Flynn’s Russia Ties,” John T. Bennett reports that “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an “bipartisan, independent, outside commission” to investigate President Donald Trump’s and his administration’s connections with Russia.”
Bennett notes also that the top-ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) said Flynn “was always a poor choice” for national security adviser, suggesting the former general lacked the needed skills as a “consensus builder” and did not “possess sobriety and steady judgment.” Further, notes Bennett
“It is certainly no role for someone who plays fast and loose with the truth,” Schiff said. “But Flynn’s departure does not end questions over his contacts with the Russians. … These alleged contacts and any others the Trump campaign may have had with the Kremlin are the subject of the House Intelligence Committee’s ongoing investigation.”
Schiff also questioned whether Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials, which could have violated a law pertaining to private citizens negotiating on behalf of the federal government, came at the behest of Trump.
Bennett adds that other Democrats are calling for more investigation and information:
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a joint statement urging Justice Department and FBI officials to come to Capitol Hill this week with answers about Flynn’s Russia ties.
“The reality is Gen. Flynn was unfit to be the National Security Advisor, and should have been dismissed three weeks ago,” Cummings and Conyers said. “Now, we in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks. We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security.”
The two lawmakers said they will ask FBI and Justice officials to brief members this week, before both chambers adjourn for a week-long Presidents’ Day recess.
And Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., House Foreign Affairs ranking member said in a statement that “far too many questions remain unanswered about this Administration’s ties to Russia.” He called for a “thorough, bipartisan investigation to get the complete picture of Russia’s interference in our election.”
House leaders are thus far opposing any further investigations. As Tara Golshan reports at Vox, “House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz said his committee will not investigate Flynn’s contact with the Russian government, or the extent of his communications with White House officials”:
“It’s taking care of itself,” Chaffetz told reporters Tuesday, according to Politico’s Kyle Cheney, adding that further investigation would be up to the House Intelligence Committee.
But Republican House Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes said Tuesday that his committee won’t look into conversations between Trump and Flynn, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. Nunes cited executive privilege — a privilege typically claimed by the president for withholding information in the public interest.
If Republican leaders continue to stonewall against further investigaton, it’s only a matter of time before reporters who believe in doing their job force Trump to explain, on camera, in his own words, what Flynn did wrong. This is too big a story to just whither away without the most important questions being answered. The politics of distraction aren’t going to help much with this one.
All of which recalls Flynn’s speech to the GOP convention, in which he parroted the “Lock her up!” chant targeting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, citing “her careless use of a private email server.” He may not be the last member of Trump’s inner circle to ‘resign’ under a cloud of concern about compromised national security, but he is the first one.