If you’re just coming out of a coma, Mike Flynn was forced to resign last night. I wasn’t particularly surprised, I was writing a story on his imminent demise when I lost power last night. By the time the lights came back on Flynn was out. And he went out for the reason that I predicted a week ago: he lied to Mike Pence.
Now we are into the next stage of any Washington fiasco: Congressional investigations.
First out of the box was Jason Chaffetz. He declined to handle this particular tar baby. It was a wise move on his part because not only would it make no one happy it would accomplish nothing.
The investigation most likely to please the Democrats and the media is the one proposed by Senate Intelligence Committee member Roy Blount.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Tuesday called for an exhaustive investigation into connections between President Donald Trump and Russia and said the Intelligence Committee should immediately speak with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” Blunt said on KTRS radio. “And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principle responsibility to look into this, and I think that 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 to make those conclusions.”
I have to admit not really knowing what that means. Is he trying to give Paul Manafort and Carter Page the chance to take a “Fifth Amendment bath” before the Committee?
His chairman seems less than enthusiastic about the idea:
The Senate’s intelligence chairman, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, also sidestepped the broader implications of Flynn’s departure following an apology for misleading Pence. “The President needs a National Security Advisor whom he can trust and I defer to him to decide who best fills that role,” Burr said in a statement.
John Cornyn is also jumping on the Investigate Flynn Train:
Texas Sen. John Cornyn is calling for the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to conduct an investigation following former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation this week.
Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader, didn’t specify exactly what the congressional committees should investigate. But asked if he supported calls for Flynn to appear before the Senate Intelligence committee, said an investigation in both the Senate and House “would be the appropriate way to proceed.”
The problem with any investigation of Flynn is that it will depend entirely upon the cooperation of the Trump administration. The hiring and firing decisions inside the NSC are clearly outside the jurisdiction of Congress if separation of powers still has any meaning.
The one investigation that is sure to stir up the left is the one announced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he won’t open an investigation into President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing executive privilege.
But the committee will investigate who leaked the story that led to Flynn’s resignation and why Trump’s national security adviser was being recorded, CNN reported Tuesday.
Of all of these, the one by Nunes will do the most good. As I’ve noted several times it is pretty obvious that a large part on US intelligence community is at war with the White House. Some, like John Schindler, claim it is because the intel community believes the Trump administration is riddled with Russian agents. It is kind of hard to credit that as more than disinformation peddled to a guy who should know better but who is so eaten up with Trump-hate that he will buy most anything. (Sadly, this is not an uncommon phenomenon.) The fact that the substance of Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador became public so quickly points to a rather grotesque violation of federal law masquerading as altruism.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
Nunes said he was dismayed that those recordings had leaked, citing a complex process for tapping communications involving U.S. citizens and then “unmasking” it for intelligence use.
Even though the FBI intercepts phone calls associated with the Russian embassy and consulates — this is not a secret — federal law prevents the conversations of US persons from being listened in on unless there is a court order for surveillance. In fact, Flynn’s calls should only have been retained if they showed clear evidence of a crime, and if that is the case they certainly shouldn’t be waved about as part of the effort to get Flynn fired. The FBI conducting surveillance of the phone calls of a member of the incoming administration and then having those transcripts leaked to cause political damage is illegal and it makes you wonder who else they are also wiretapping.