Recent news headlines have created a false impression that the push to investigate Donald Trump's disgraced former National Security Advisor is bipartisan. In fact, Republicans in the House and Senate are dragging their feet on any real, independent investigative probe.
The controversy involving secret calls with the Russian ambassador and discussions of sanctions which forced Michael Flynn to resign from his post as National Security Advisor, and the bombshell report on the Donald Trump campaign’s pre-election coordination with the Russian government, are making headlines across the corporate media.
“Senators from both parties pledge to deepen probe of Russia in the 2016 election,” blares the Washington Post. “McConnell: Flynn investigation ‘highly likely’ in Senate committee,” reports CNN. “Flynn contact with Russia: Republicans join calls for investigation,” announces BBC.
But these headlines are far too charitable: The demands for independent investigations of Flynn’s collusion with Russia are almost wholly one-sided from congressional Democrats, with some Republicans agreeing only to investigations inside existing (Republican-run) committees in Congress. And indeed, many Republicans are actively pushing against any investigations altogether.
Even before the scandal broke, Democrats spent weeks calling for an independent investigation, introducing House and Senate legislation that would establish an independent commission, like the one established to investigate 9/11, and not a single congressional Republican has backed either bill — not even Senators John McCain (R-AZ) or Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who have previously advocated such a probe.
Democrats also want the FBI to continue investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any such investigation of Flynn, which would clear the way for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
By contrast, several prominent House and Senate Republicans are actively against investigating Flynn at all.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) gave this justification against investigating Flynn:
I’ll leave it up to the administration to describe the circumstances. I’m not going to prejudge any of the circumstances surrounding this until we have all of the information.
Of course the whole point of investigating is to get information.
And Ryan is not alone. As Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee moved to open an investigation into Flynn, every single Republican on the committee voted to block them.
At the same time, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) argues it is not his place to investigate Flynn because of executive privilege, and Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — who used his office to relentlessly pursue Benghazi, Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and a government ethics official who criticized Trump — insists an investigation of Flynn is unnecessary because “It’s taking care of itself.”
Perhaps the most outrageous justification against investigating Flynn came from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered the following reasoning in an interview on the “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show:
I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.
Leaving aside the fact that Flynn is actually a registered Democrat, Paul’s oath of office was to the U.S. Constitution, not to the Republican Party.
The bottom line is that Democrats are earnestly seeking answers on Flynn and Russia, and Republicans are refusing to commit to any inquiries outside of their direct control. The corporate media does us all a disservice by implying anything else.