Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.
Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.
Michael Flynn’s resignation could be a revelatory moment regarding the innumerable rumors of ties to Russia within the Trump administration. Beginning prior to the election and recurring consistently since, the rumors have run the gamut from collusion to urination. Some of them have been credible, and others hysterically dumb — we won’t know whether they’re true, or just a fantastical fallacy liberals (like me) want to believe to discredit a terrible administration, unless they’re investigated. And some Republicans — particularly Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz — are making it damn hard to investigate any of them, even with mounting evidence of a lot of investigation-worthy shit.
Concern certainly seems valid: Donald Trump apparently was told two weeks ago that Flynn withheld information from Vice President Mike Pence. It was largely the withholding of information that led to Flynn’s resignation. And as Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker, Flynn’s explanation of the omission as a “whoopsie” — wherein he forgot to mention that he’d discussed Obama administration sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak due to a “rush” of everything going on in the transition period — raises new questions, the most important of which is: is it possible that Flynn also forgot to mention, perhaps, that his boss asked him to raise that subject? “Did Trump instruct Flynn to discuss a potential easing of sanctions with Russia? Did Flynn update Trump on his calls with the Russian Ambassador? Did Trump know that Flynn lied to Pence about those contacts?” Lizza asks. These seem like things to…investigate.
On the Intercept, Robert Mackey writes, “Looking back at one of Trump’s own tweets, which he posted on December 30 — the day after Flynn secretly urged Russia not to respond to the Obama administration’s new sanctions — makes it hard not to wonder if he knew about his aide’s effort to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to delay.” The tweet in question praises Putin’s decision: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!”
As Mackey points out, the news that acting attorney general Sally Yates (yeah, the one Trump fired) had already informed the White House about Flynn’s omission could also indicate that Trump was “feigning surprise … when he was asked about reports that his aide had talked about sanctions.” More reasons, surely, to investigate.
The Republicans haven’t all been actively inactive in the wake of this news. Today, one Republican Senator — Roy Blunt, of Missouri — has, per CNN, called f0r an “exhaustive investigation into Trump-Russia connections” in the wake of Flynn’s resignation. The Senator said on a program on St. Louis’ KTRS radio:
I think everybody needs that investigation to happen…And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principle responsibility to look into this, and I think that we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned.
Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, congressional Democrats are suggesting the formation of a separate committee to press for investigations of the Trump administration, with a key goal being “to increase political pressure on Republicans to take more investigative action.”
Which brings me back to the point of this post. Beyond rare cases like Blunt (and Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who’re apparently also beginning inquiries through the Armed Services Committee), most Republicans remain defiantly apathetic about the new findings. (Largely, it would seem, because so many of them have already entrenched themselves in Trumpism for their own political gain, contorting their already deeply-flexible alleged morals into greasy political pretzels.) This is particularly true in the House of Representatives. Speaker Paul Ryan said, “I’ll leave it to the administration to describe the circumstances surrounding what brought to this point.”
As another Post article emphasizes, the great absurdity is that Paul Ryan then stated there needs to be more information before an investigation would be launched — despite the fact that the very point of the investigation would be to gather said information. While the Senate seems to be on track to begin investigations, it’s a bit more iffy in the House. Which brings us back to Chaffetz.
As chairman of the House’s central investigative committee, the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz was known during the election for backing all kinds of probes into Clinton’s emails. Surely, then, such a fearless watchdog will be all over this issue? Nope. The Congressman has said he won’t pursue further investigation into Flynn’s potential ties to Russia. (He is investigating Sid the Science Kid, though, so fear not!)
The aforementioned Post piece points out that after the release of the “pussy grabbing” tape, Chaffetz said of Donald Trump, “I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president.” But then Chaffetz said he’d vote for him anyway — and has apparently since committed himself to defending the Trump administration. Here’s his statement to reporters on his decision not to investigate Flynn:
I think that situation has taken care of itself. I know that the Intel committee is looking into the hacking issue…I think he did the right thing stepping down.
Soon after, he made his first remotely challenging gesture, asking Trump for information about Mar-A-Lago security, following the president’s very public handling of a North Korean ballistic missile test on Saturday in the dining room of his private club. The request could be seen as a response to criticism he’s already received about his stance on Flynn. If criticism has, indeed, made him flinch at all, we can at least hope a lot more pestering will make a difference.
So, if this is a concern for you, one thing to do today — and tomorrow, etc. — is to call the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and demand that Chaffetz reconsider an investigation. (I’ve seen quite a few people posting on social media about doing this, as well.) Their number is (202) 225-5074. When I tried calling, the number was busy, so: another option is, if you happen to be a constituent of a district overseen by any Representative on that committee — and there are many — try calling, and if that doesn’t work, emailing, their individual offices to ask them to press Chaffetz on an investigation.
Though Senate is, as mentioned, seeming more active right now, it wouldn’t hurt to further encourage your Senators to support the burgeoning investigative movements therein. 5calls has a script you can use for a concise and effective call on the matter.