Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General of the U.S., gave important insight on Monday into what (and when) she told the White House about then National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn and his vulnerability to Russian blackmail. Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening firing of FBI Director James Comey came only hours after the FBI had issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of its investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election. Last night we also learned that Trump had hired a law firm to fight suggestions of his Russian business ties.
Just as we were able to watch the French election and connect the dots to Russian interference, and to importantly see how France reacted, the World is watching the U.S. from that same vantage point. They know our President’s campaign is under investigation for possible collusion with Russia. They know that our President just fired the head of the FBI, the person closest to getting to the truth of the matter. And, I am not sure our Congressional leadership fully understand how their actions play out to this broader audience.
Who is proactively working to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the U.S. election? Who is obstructing? Who is fighting for our democracy? Who is aligning themselves with the President? And, here’s why I think these questions matter. I may be jumping to conclusions here, but follow my logic. If Flynn was subject to Russian blackmail because the Russians knew he was lying to the public vis-a-vis the White House (that was part of the U.S. Intelligence assessment), do both Russian and Foreign intelligence agencies (who we also learned notified the U.S. about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia), gain a leg up when half of our government seem disinterested in getting to the bottom of whether our President, or others in the administration are subject to that same blackmail? Is it too far a stretch to assume that Foreign intelligence may have already connected the dots and shared that information with the U.S. and is watching to see what we do with it? What are we showing them about our democracy?
Once elected, what are the checks and balances on a U.S. President who is not being held accountable by his own party when that same party has a majority in both the house and senate? I see the press is alive and well and reporting. I see a great part of civil society rising up in the name of the Resistance to give voice. I see a judicial branch also willing to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law. But, what about our elected officials? I see a number of Democrats standing up – most often being swatted aside by their Republican counterparts as partisans. But, where are the “Patriots”? I want to see more than Republican press releases citing “disappointment” and a call for a “special congressional committee” to investigate Russia’s interference. Don’t we already have a number of Committee’s acting as variations on the same theme? Can’t we, at this important juncture, hold up Nunes and Chaffetz as the poster boys of how well these Congressional committees work?
As David Frum put it, “the question has to be asked searchingly of the Republican members of Congress: Will you allow a president of your party to attack the integrity of the FBI? You impeached Bill Clinton for lying about sex. Will you now condone and protect a Republican administration lying about espionage?”
There is nothing partisan about standing up to the President, holding him accountable. The World is watching, no pressure.
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