Crain's Chicago Business: Democrats want more answers after Flynn resignation
The following article was published on February 14, 2017. A link to the article can be found here.
By Greg Hinz
If Illinois congressional Democrats have their way, the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will be just the first step in a deeper probe of relations between Russia and the Trump administration.
In statements, both of the state's Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, are pretty much demanding that Congress ask a lot more questions about what occurred both with Flynn and back during the presidential campaign. So are key House members such as Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, who knows more than most congressmen as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
But GOP members from the Chicago area are saying little so far, and none are echoing that call for a wider probe.
"The American people deserve to know the truth about possibly illegal contacts between the Russian government and the president's campaign and transition, as well as who else is involved or could be vulnerable to Russian coercion," said Durbin, who has become a hard-liner on this subject lately.
Reports that Flynn may have made himself vulnerable to blackmail "only heighten the need for an independent investigation. It's time for Republicans in Congress to put America's national security ahead of party loyalty."
Duckworth said President Donald Trump "never should have chosen" Flynn and that his resignation "was long overdue."
The punchline in her statement: "The American people deserve a full and transparent accounting of what President Trump and his aides knew and when they knew it. If the president cannot or will not provide these answers, Congress must use its authority as a coequal branch of government to fully investigate why."
Quigley said he's disturbed that Flynn "was caught in a lie" to Trump, but the episode "raises even more questions about the Trump administration's relationship with Vladimir Putin. . . .We need a bicameral, bipartisan and thorough investigation now more than ever."
There is no sign today that Republicans, who control both houses, will agree to that.
For instance, House Speaker Paul Ryan said only that Flynn made "the right decision" and that he'd leave it up to Trump to say more.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Joliet, suggested in a Fox News interview that "the coverup was worse than the crime."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson held what amounted to negotiations with foreign countries as a private citizen, and he never was charged with a crime, Kinzinger added. Indeed, chats like that between Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. "would not be completely out of the ordinary."
Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, had no immediate comment.
A spokesman for Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton said his boss is "concerned" but has only partial information so far. Roskam, he added, "is one of the strongest advocates in Congress for Ukraine, Georgia, and other U.S. allies standing up to Russian aggression. I'm sure we will have more to say about this as we learn more info in the coming days."
Update— Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, says, “Let's get this straight: the Trump administration had previous knowledge of Michael Flynn's reckless contact with Russia and vulnerability to blackmail. Despite that, the President kept him on as a full member of the National Security Council, handling our nation's most delicate national security information. Gen. Flynn's resignation came only after the outcry from the press, the public, and Democratic lawmakers became too overwhelming to ignore. This dangerous sequence of events only deepens my concerns about how far Russia's control of our President and his administration goes. I continue to demand a thorough investigation into Russia's interference in our election and its grip on President Trump and his Administration. I am a proud cosponsor of H. Con. Res. 15, a resolution sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, which would do just that."
Update—Is Roskam preparing to put some distance between himself and the White House?
In a new statement, he says, ““Russian attempts to infiltrate and undermine democratic institutions across the western world are of grave concern to me . . . We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends and allies who suffer the consequences of Russian aggression and intimidation.”
Roskam adds that Flynn was “deservedly” fired, and says, “In the coming days and weeks I will be looking into this matter more closely.”
Hmm. Very interesting.