The House Oversight Committee went public on Twitter yesterday to catch Vice President Mike Pence in a demonstrably false claim regarding the alleged Mike Flynn cover up that is alleged to be part of the larger scale Trump Russia cover up and obstruction of justice. Additionally, The Washington Post reported the news this week that it may not be just Mike Pence involved in a cover up.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allegedly knew of Russian interference with the election last summer. The Washington Post reported that not only did they know, but that Speaker Ryan held a meeting about it with a select group of men and instructed them not to speak of it, saying, “What’s said in the family, stays in the family.”
The claim of the House Oversight Committee yesterday points to Mike Pence as being part of the Mike Flynn cover up when Mike Pence served as the head of the Trump transition team. The Michael Flynn cover up is reportedly part of the larger cover up of collusion between the Trump transition team and Russia to interfere with Elections 2016.
A declassified version of the highly classified DNI report from the Director of National Intelligence in January 2017 confirms that Russia did interfere with Elections 2016, with a two-fold purpose. Their alleged intentions were to both harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and help Donald Trump’s campaign.
The DNI report asserts that Russia did not want Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States, as they harbored a grudge with her for disparaging comments she allegedly made about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is also, according to the DNI report, upset with Hillary Clinton and blamed her for inciting protests against his regime in 2011 and 2012. At this point in time, Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Vice President Mike Pence are all disparaging any notions that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
The report states that the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, have “high confidence” in the judgement of this report.
The DNI report has prompted multiple Congressional investigations, multiple recusals or firings within the Trump camp or Trump appointees, and these investigations are as of this week being overseen by a special prosecutor.
The House Oversight Committee alone states publicly that they have three investigations going on right now, and are using hashtags on Twitter to announce those investigations. They are #RussianHacking, #TrumpRussiaCollusion, and #TrumpCoverUp. But yesterday their focus was on Vice President Mike Pence, and how much he does or does not know about former NSA Advisor Michael Flynn who was fired for having conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
At the time, Mike Pence said he knew nothing about those conversations.
But the House Oversight Committee is saying, those claims by Mike Pence are demonstrably false, and have evidence in their hacking, collusion, and cover up investigations that support their claim. On November 18, as head of the Trump transition team, Mike Pence received a letter from the House Oversight committee outlining in detail problematic areas of Mike Flynn.
The letter “raised concerns” that Mike Flynn was receiving classified information regarding the United States, while lobbying with Turkey, and detailed those lobbying efforts. The letter also raised concerns that in December 2015, Mike Flynn was paid to attend a conference in Moscow, and have dinner with Russian president Vladimir Putin to honor a Kremlin backed television network known as Russia Today or RT.
The letter also pointed to Mike Pence that Michael Flynn penned an Op-Ed for the Hill on November 8, Election Day, titled, “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.”
Knowing all of these things, Mike Pence hired Michael Flynn to be part of the transition team, and helped him attain a high-level Cabinet position in the Trump Administration. The Oversight Committee said yesterday that Mike Pence is now claiming he has never received this letter or read it, with an aide of Pence saying, “I’m not sure we saw the letter.”
But the House Oversight Committee says, this too is demonstrably false. In an email to the House Oversight Committee dated November 28, 2016, the Office of Legislative Affairs and President-Elect Transition Team wrote the following to the House Oversight Committee.
“Thank you very much for your letters of November 15 and November 18, 2016, and we appreciate you taking the time to contact the President-Elect and his incoming administration. We look forward to working with Congress once the President-Elect takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, and will review your letter carefully.”
When asked about Mike Flynn’s lobbying efforts in Turkey in March 2017, Vice President Mike Pence responded, twice, with the statement, “Let me say that, hearing that story today is the first I’ve heard of it.”
With allegations of obstruction of justice now swirling the White House, this demonstrably false claim of Mike Pence could be problematic. In response to the House Oversight tweets yesterday, Adam Jentleson former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Harry Reid outlined a timeline of the Trump Russia scandal for the House Oversight Committee, saying, “Every day there’s more evidence that Pence, Ryan, and McConnell covered up for a man they knew to be dangerous – so who knew what when?”
It was revealed this week that Flynn had informed the transition team that he was the subject of an FBI investigation, shortly after Trump took office. Pence knew this, and hired him anyway.
On May 8, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that on January 26, she contacted White House Counsel Dan McGahn to inform the White House that Michael Flynn was compromised by Russia. She testified under oath that she believed he could be blackmailed by Russia.
On the day that happened, Vice President Mike Pence was in the White House, according to his Twitter timeline. He was “honored to meet with Pro-Life leaders in my office tonight.” It was the next day on January 27 when Donald Trump had dinner with FBI Director James Comey, where Trump allegedly asked James Comey to drop the investigation and asked James Comey for his loyalty.
James Comey did not drop the investigation. Sally Yates was fired on January 30. James Comey was fired on May 9. Yesterday, a report came out of the New York Times that of James Comey, Donald Trump later told Russia, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Two weeks after the dinner with James Comey, and nine days after the firing of Sally Yates, The Washington Post reported in a separate report on February 9, that Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak had discussed the removal of sanctions against Russia placed by the Obama Administration, for hacking the election. Mike Pence said that he did not know anything about that conversation.
It was one month later, on March 9, when news of Flynn’s lobbying in Turkey broke, news that Mike Pence would have learned on November 18. Mike Pence said in March that it was the “first he had heard” of it. But Mike Pence is not the only one telling that story.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are also all saying that whatever is happening right now is news to them, while also saying there is no evidence of collusion with Russia. But many reports going back to August 2016 show that they knew.
Not only did they know, they were part of a group of Congressional leaders known as the “Gang of Eight” and receive classified briefings that began in 2015.
Reuters reported in August 2016, a report that ran with the headline, “Congressional leaders were briefed a year ago on hacking of Democrats.”
The “Gang of Eight” included the following: Mitch McConnell, then-Speaker John Boehner, Senator Richard Burr, Congress member Rep. Devin Nunes, Senator Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Adam Schiff.
It was Senator Harry Reid who wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey in October 2016 chastising him for bringing Hillary Clinton related information to Congress eleven days before the election. That investigation was dropped and Hillary Clinton was cleared of any wrong doing, but the damage had been done to her campaign.
Senator Reid accused FBI Director Comey of violating the Hatch Act. He also said the following.
“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States which Trump praises at every opportunity.”
We now know that Senator Harry Reid was referring to briefings given to the Gang of Eight as early as August 2015. In August of 2016, CIA Director Brennan also began a series of urgent and individual briefings for House leaders including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.
Director Brennan is expected to testify to the House Committees investigating the allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia. More of who knew what when is likely to come out at that time.
More briefings to these leaders continued in September 2016, with the same leaders continuing to disparage reports of aTrump Russia collusion. Former Deputy Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson tweeted this week, “In sum: there’s no earthly way Pence, McConnell, and Ryan didn’t know the extend of the danger they put the U.S. in by covering up for Trump.”
A separate report by the Washington Post this week validates the implications of the cover up, with a headline that reads, “House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump.”
That report refers to then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who made that statement in a private meeting on Capitol Hill with his “fellow GOP leaders.” McCarthy asserted that he believed Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”
The conversation was recorded on June 15, 2016, and was obtained and verified by the Washington Post. Congress member Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California is a long-time defender of both Putin and Russia, much like Donald Trump. In that recording, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan “immediately interjected” and promptly swore all members present to secrecy.
Paul Ryan reminded the leaders of the Russians meddling with Ukrainian politics, and then issued a public statement saying, “The United States stands with Ukraine as it works to rebuild its economy and confront Russian aggression.”
But in a private meeting later with Congress members Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Rodgers, Rep. Scalise, and Deputy Whip Rep. McHenry, Paul Ryan reportedly swore the men to secrecy saying, “No leaks…this is how we know we’re a real family here.” Rep. Scalise reportedly responded, “That’s how you know that we’re tight.”
Speaker Ryan reportedly agreed, “What’s said in the family, stays in the family.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan could have additional motivations for keeping the secrets. The Democratic Coalition revealed this week that Donald Trump reportedly gave $100,000 to Paul Ryan’s Super PAC.
The Democratic Coalition also reported that a big supporter of Donald Trump gave Paul Ryan $20 million dollars in August 2016, around the time the Gang of Eight was being briefed on Trump Russia collusion.
All of this appears to confirm what Adam Jentleson former Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Harry Reid said yesterday, “Ryan, McConnell, and Pence consciously put the country at risk by covering for Trump and they must be held accountable.”
[Feature Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]