House Intelligence Committee Scoffs At Flynn Investigation, Pushes To Investigate FBI Instead
The scandal that resulted in the resignation of Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn due to his discussions with the Russian ambassador is quickly deepening, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now says it’s “highly likely” that the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate the situation, CNN reports.
“I think the fundamental question for us is what is our involvement in it, and who ought to look at it,” McConnell said. “And the intelligence committee is already looking at Russian involvement in our election. As Sen. (Roy) Blunt has already indicated, it is highly likely they will want to take a look at this episode as well. They have the broad jurisdiction to do it.”
Senate Republicans have plenty of questions for Flynn
Other ranking Republicans are also demanding a deeper investigation into the situation, following a series of smaller investigations on Russian interference in the U.S. election. Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate standing committees that have oversight over intelligence need to get involved.
And when CNN asked Cornyn if he wanted the Senate’s committees to investigate Flynn, he said “yes.”
But Cornyn, who’s the Senate Majority Whip, said he’s not ready to say Flynn should testify before Congress.
“I think it’s symbolic of somebody with a distinguished military career making a bad mistake,” he said, regarding Flynn.
Blunt told one radio station that this is an investigation that needs to happen.
“I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” he said. “And the Senate Intelligence committee, again, that I serve on, has been given the principal responsibility to look into this, and I think we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have before you make those conclusions.”
Lawmakers should talk to Flynn “very soon,” he added.
“I would think that we should talk to Gen. Flynn very soon and that should answer a lot of questions. What did he know? What did he do? And is there any reason to believe that anybody knew that and didn’t take the kind of action that they should have taken?”
New York Rep. Peter King, also a Republican, said Trump should be asked if he ordered Flynn to talk to Russian officials. And he wants to know what Trump knows and when he knew it.
“I think that should be asked to the president. To the question of executive privilege as to the president should discuss, you know, what he knows.”
And while a number of prominent Senate Republicans are taking two steps forward regarding any investigations, some House Republicans are taking two steps back.
House Oversight Committee Rep. Chair Jason Chaffetz said his committee isn’t going to investigate Flynn’s contact with the Russian government, or the extent communications with White House officials, Vox reports. This is a little odd when you consider that Chaffetz attacked Hillary Clinton on numerous occasions, yet he thinks Flynn, for some reason, isn’t worth bothering with.
Indeed, he shows little concern over what’s going on with Flynn.
“It’s taking care of itself,” Chaffetz told reporters, notes Politico’s Kyle Cheney, then said he’s leaving it up to the House Intelligence Committee to decide what to do.
Chaffetz says investigation of Flynn is “taking care of itself.” Says further investigation is purview of intel committee not oversight.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 14, 2017
And Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Republican Intelligence Committee, said his committee doesn’t intend to investigate conversations between Trump and Flynn. He cited the aforementioned executive privilege, which is a privilege the president can claim in order to withhold information in the public interest.
Instead, he’s critical of the FBI. Nunes said he’s more concerned about the fact that the FBI was recording Flynn’s telephone conversation with Russian envoy Sergey Kislyak, which wound up being leaked to the press.
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” Nunes said, per The Washington Post. “The big problem that I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
He’s not worried about the fact that Flynn talked to the Russians and possibly violated national security. Or that Flynn, who talked to the ambassador before becoming a member of Trump’s Cabinet, wasn’t authorized to talk to a foreign government, and may have done so illegally. As noted by CNN, it’s illegal for unauthorized private citizens to negotiate with a foreign government.
Tuesday morning in a tweet, Trump wrote that the “real story here is why are there so many so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington.”
The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2017
But perhaps the real question is: Why are House Republicans like Chaffetz and Nunes willing to let an issue a formerly major member of Trump’s Cabinet slide when he collaborated with the Russians? Isn’t that also a leak of pretty humongous proportions?
A series of leaks exposed Flynn’s lies to top White House officials, Vice President Mike Pence among them, and revealed the depth of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, showing that the former National Security Adviser had discussed sanctions. And on Monday, The Washington Post revealed that the Justice Department alerted the White House about the dangers of Flynn’s connections to Russia in January.
But as Kyle Griffin, a producer for MSNBC, notes, Trump told reporters he had not heard the report.
Trump says—about 16 hrs after WaPo broke the Flynn-Russia news—he hasn’t seen anything about it: “What report is that? I haven’t seen that.” pic.twitter.com/phoqXxebqU
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 11, 2017
Flynn resigned on Monday after the Justice Department report was revealed he misled Trump administration officials regarding what his conversations with Kislyak were about and whether the issue of sanctions came up in those conversations.
Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images