House Republicans seem content to give National Security Adviser Michael Flynn a pass for lying about his improper communication with Russia. Instead, they’re going after the people who leaked that Flynn acted inappropriately in the first place.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) caught flack this week—including from within his own party—after he told reporters that the revelations about Flynn’s conduct didn’t warrant an investigation by the House Oversight Committee he chairs because it was “taking care of itself.”
Flynn resigned on Monday after reports in the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere revealed that he inappropriately communicated with Russian officials before Donald Trump took office on January 20, then subsequently lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence and others within the administration.
Yet none of that seemed to bother Chaffetz or his colleagues on the House Oversight Committee, who refused to call for an investigation into Flynn. Instead, he deferred any decision on whether or not to launch an investigation to the Intelligence Committee, whose chairman Rep. David Nunes (R-CA) continued to praise Flynn right up until the moment he resigned in disgrace.
“I have great confidence in Mike Flynn. He’s probably the best intelligence officer of his generation,” Nunes told Fox News on Monday, hours before Flynn resigned. “He’s being attacked maliciously by the press.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
No Republican in Congress—nor anyone from the White House—has denied any of the allegations made against Flynn. Instead, they are shifting their focus towards the anonymous sources that have been leaking information to the press. Trump has been blasting leakers as “low-life” and “un-American” in a series of barely coherent tweets since Monday, and in a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, Chaffetz and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were happy to pick up the mantle.
“We have serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information here,” the letter reads. “The release of classified national security information can, by definition, have grave effects on national security. In light of this, we request that your office begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled here.”
To recap: when the National Security Adviser, who has access to the most sensitive information and a documented history of inappropriate communication with Russian officials, “mishandles” information and then lies about it, it’s not a problem. When whistleblowers reveal the aforementioned transgression, it warrants a congressional investigation.