U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and the Senate Minority Leader, yesterday called for an independent investigation into former National Security Adviser Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.
Flynn, resigned two days ago after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Various media outlets also reported that a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
The incident has led to even some Republicans in Washington contemplating a larger probe to see who up the chain of command all the way to President Trump was involved with secret meetings with the Russians before Trump took office.
“General Flynn’s resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely a beginning. It is not the last chapter of this saga, but only the first. His resignation raises more questions than it answers and the American people deserve to know the truth,” said Schumer.
“In the days and weeks ahead, the Trump administration has many serious questions to answer. These questions must be asked by independent and unbiased law enforcement officers. They must be answered truthfully by administration officials. And any attempt to lie or mislead must be countered with the full force of the law. That must be true for every single employee of the Trump administration. From assistants sitting in cramped cubicles to the man occupying the Oval Office. I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in this call because the crisis here rises above party.
“Was General Flynn directed or authorized to do what he did? What was the extent of his conversations and contact with Russia? Who else from the Trump administration, transition or campaign, had contact with the Russians? And why wasn’t General Flynn fired? As soon as the administration found out, why did they act only when they were caught misleading the media?
“These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered. And these questions shouldn’t just apply to General Flynn, but to senior officials in the Trump campaign transition and administration. Every one of these questions should be applied to all of them, as well.
“There needs to be an independent and transparent investigation, because the White House knew for weeks that General Flynn misled the Vice President and that his discussion about sanctions with the Russian government could potentially compromise our national security, because it was subject to blackmail. And yet, they let him stay on for weeks, present at and participating in the highest level of national security discussions until those reports were made public.
“If an investigation is not independent, nonpartisan, and most of all transparent, there is no guarantee this administration will take the decisive and immediate actions necessary to keep our country safe. The White House Counsel cannot lead this investigation. And the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, cannot be the person to lead that investigation.
“Department of Justice regulations specifically prohibit individuals who have political ties to the subjects of an investigation from leading that investigation. I want to read you the regulations from DOJ website. “No Department of Justice employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution or who would be directly affected by the outcome.”
“The regulations continue. “Political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, candidate, political party or campaign organization arising from service as a principal advisor or official. Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality.”
“Jeff Sessions was chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee alongside General Michael Flynn. He was a senior advisor in the Trump campaign, the first senator to endorse the President’s campaign, and nominated him at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
“Those facts and the Department of Justice’s own rules disqualify Attorney General Sessions from running this investigation.
“Because the rules are so clear, I expect Attorney General Sessions will recuse himself and make sure that an independent and thorough investigation proceeds. The American people deserve a full investigation. We need a transparent investigation, and we need an impartial investigation.”