Why are the American people and Congress not outraged about the allegations that Trump’s team, possibly with the knowledge of and/or instigation of Trump, worked with Russian agents to influence the outcome of our last presidential election? Why aren’t people more invested in getting to the bottom of these allegations more quickly? Why are other matters in Congress taking precedent over these investigations? Why aren’t people more concerned that Trump might be working with Russia to undermine our already faltering democracy? Trump is potentially guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors that make him unfit to lead our great country. Trump is also potentially guilty of treason.
The old adage is, “where there is smoke there is fire.” We ought to be choking on all of the smoke that has been rising from the direction of Mike Flynn, former National Security Adviser to Trump and Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President (Trump’s son-in-law).
First, Flynn had to resign after only 24 days as Trump’s National Security Adviser because he allegedly misled VP Mike Pence about Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions against Russia (Attorney General Jeff Sessions also had undisclosed discussions with Kislyak which led him to recuse himself from any investigations involving the election). Next, Flynn offered to voluntarily testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees in return for immunity from prosecution. Generally, people who lawyer-up and come forward offering their cooperation in exchange for immunity, fear real criminal exposure. Most recently, the House Oversight Committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, said in a joint press conference that Flynn appears to have broken the law by not disclosing on his 2016 security clearance application, payments that he received from Russia only a month before he filled the application.
The announcement that Flynn’s omissions were probably illegal has led House Democrats to call for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to have his security clearance suspended since Kushner reportedly ommitted dozens of foreign contacts from his security-clearance form, including meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak and Russian bank CEO Sergey Gorkov in December 2016. Knowingly falsifying information on the forms is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Five House Democrats said in a statement released earlier this month, “Mr. Kushner’s lack of candor about meetings with Russian officials appears to be part of a larger pattern of dissembling and deception on Russian contacts from the Trump team, and we believe the public deserves the truth about what connection, if any, exists between these incidents.”
Smoke is also billowing from the direction of Carter Page, former Trump foreign policy adviser. The FBI was concerned enough about one Page to obtain a FISA Court warrant to monitor Page’s communications on the grounds he might be an agent of a foreign power i.e. Russia.
Despite all of this smoke no one is vigorously investigating the fire! The House Intelligence Committee held one public hearing on March 20 where FBI Director Comey confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian authorities during the 2016 election campaign. The FBI does not spend time on an investigation unless they have substantial evidence to pursue an investigation.
Immediately thereafter, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, claimed he had obtained classified evidence from secret sources that the Obama administration had improperly obtained identities of Trump associates who were picked up in intelligence intercepts. Nunes shared this information with the White House without conferring with the Committee, which led to an ethics investigation into Nunes disclosure of classified information and led Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.
Before recusing himself, Chairman Nunes cancelled the second open House Intelligence Committee hearing that was supposed to feature former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Now, Clapper, Brennan and Yates are not set to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in an open hearing until late May, almost two months after the last hearing was cancelled. FBI Director Comey and national security adviser Michael Rogers (who already testified March 20) will appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing on May 2.
On Monday, Yahoo News reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has made little progress investigating allegations of collusion by associates of President Trump with Russia to interfere in the elections. “The committee has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents or interview any key witnesses who are central to the probe, the sources said. It also hasn’t requested potentially crucial evidence — such as the emails, memos and phone records of the Trump campaign — in part because the panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has so far failed to respond to requests from the panel’s Democrats to sign letters doing so, the sources said.”
Tim Mak of The Daily Beast reports that there are no full-time staff members working on the Senate inquiry and that “no interviews have been conducted with key individuals.”
Yates and Clapper are also scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 8. The Senate Judiciary Committee is the fourth major investigator (besides the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the FBI) examining what exactly Russia did to influence our elections and whether the Trump campaign was involved.
These hearing have been delayed for months. Only two persons have been publicly interviewed despite the fact that their testimony was that an unprecedented probe into a President who might have colluded with Russia to undermine and influence our elections.
People need to urge Congress to get all three of these investigations going at full speed before Trump does something that we all really regret and that we cannot undue.