Michael Flynn, the embattled former National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, will not be investigated by the House Oversight Committee, according to Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Flynn resigned late Monday night over a rapidly grown scandal involving contacts the retired Army Lieutenant General had with the Russian government prior to President Donald Trump taking office. Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak by phone on Dec. 29, 2016, the same day then-President Barack Obama announced sanctions in response to allegations that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election. In that conversation, Flynn allegedly discussed lifting sanctions against Russia once Donald Trump was sworn in as president, according to Talking Points Memo.
Questions about Flynn’s conversations were reported on for weeks. But in a report by CNN, the Justice Department had warned the Trump administration in January that Michael Flynn was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government. The message was delivered by then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Donald Trump two weeks ago for her refusal to defend his controversial travel freeze in court.
With Washington abuzz over the news, word began circulating that Michael Flynn was in trouble, although Raw Story reported there were conflicting reports from administration officials about Flynn’s status. Flynn finally confirmed the rumors when he announced his resignation late Monday night.
Flynn’s resignation letter to the White House acknowledged the December conversations and that he may have “inadvertently” misled the administration about the substance of his calls to the Russian ambassador.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Flynn’s letter said. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
Almost immediately, calls went out for Trump to fire his National Security Adviser, and Democrats on the Oversight Committee wrote to Jason Chaffetz about the need to investigate Michael Flynn.
“Today, all Democratic Members of the Committee write to you jointly to request that you either reconsider your decision and initiate this investigation, or step aside and allow the Committee to vote on conducting basic oversight going forward,” the letter said.
But in a report by The Hill, Chaffetz responded by saying Flynn’s resignation solved the problem, and no further inquiry was needed.
“I think that situation has taken care of itself,” Chaffetz said. “I think he did the right thing stepping down.”
The House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif), a member of Donald Trump’s transition team, echoed Chaffetz in refusing to look into Flynn’s conduct. In fact, Nunes released a statement on Michael Flynn that heaped praise on the former National Security Adviser.
“Michael Flynn served in the U.S. military for more than three decades. Washington, D.C. can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn ― who has always been a soldier, not a politician ― deserves America’s gratitude and respect for dedicating so much of his life to strengthening our national security,” his statement said. “I thank him for his many years of distinguished service.”
Other Republican lawmakers were quick to rise to Michael Flynn’s defense, including Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), who also denied the need for an investigation and praised him for his service.
.@SenOrrinHatch says Flynn resignation doesn't "deserve" investigation. "I think highly of him, he's a hero of this country for many years"
— Jacqueline Klimas (@jacqklimas) February 14, 2017
After news broke of Flynn’s resignation, the New York Times reported that Trump had been informed 17 days ago by White House Counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn had not been truthful about his account of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. As recently as Friday evening, President Trump denied knowing about Flynn discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador and claimed that was going to “look into” the accusations.
“I don’t know about that,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
The day after Flynn’s resignation, White House Press Secretary appeared to contradict the president’s assertion, saying that Trump had learned of the discussions “immediately” after the Justice Department briefing, according to the Huffington Post. He went on to say that President Trump “took immediate, decisive action,” even though he waited nearly three weeks for Flynn’s resignation letter.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]