Republican leaders in the Senate say General Michael Flynn should appear before Congress to be questioned about the circumstances surrounding his resignation.
GOP lawmakers stopped short of calling for an independent committee to look into Flynn’s actions. The creation of such a panel, demanded by Democrats, would elevate the investigation and allow for televised, public hearings.
Instead, they agreed that the investigation into the circumstances should be included in a wider probe into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election currently being undertaken by the Intelligence Committee.
Senator Roy Blunt said it is “likely” that Flynn would be asked to appear before the committee. Mitch McConnell said it is “highly likely” an investigation would occur. Marco Rubio wants to see more evidence before bringing Flynn before Congress, though he fully expects the Intelligence Committee to investigate.
One exception was Rand Paul, who thought a Senate investigation would be excessive. In his opinion, President Trump already had handled the situation, so additional work by the Senate would distract from other issued on which it should be focused.
CNN quoted him as saying the following:
“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.”
He has a point. Frustratingly, Republicans appear to be unenthusiastic about keeping that campaign promise, if Bob Corker is to be believed.
House Republicans, such as Speaker Ryan, are, by contrast, open to the idea of an investigation, but are not insistent on it.
“I think that situation has taken care of itself,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said. “I know that the intel committee is looking into the hacking issue. It’s not something the Oversight Committee can actually look at because sources and methods are the exclusive purview of the intel committee.”
The Hill reported that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes “said his panel would instead review the intelligence community leaks of Flynn’s phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”
The difference between the Senate and House in the level of deference they give the new president and their interest in investigating potential administration scandals on their own is something to keep an eye on. To what degree do they let a controversial president whose first month has been rocky have his honeymoon period? Do they come down on the side of those who are worried about or critical of Trump or the Republican who want to give him a chance?
Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said the House Intelligence Committee “follow the facts wherever they lead.” This seems to be the best policy — neither to conduct a witch hunt nor to pretend there is nothing to see — but so far it has lead to two different approaches by the two houses of Congress. It will be interesting to see that trend continues.