Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings
Democratic Leader Press Conference on Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
February 14, 2017—12:30
Thank you, Madame Leader.
Let me begin by asking everyone in this room a question. Do you hear that? Do you hear that silence? That is the sound of House Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump. That is what it sounds like when they abdicate their duty under the Constitution.
We have been asking for months for basic oversight of President Trump and his advisors and their ties to Russia, but our Chairman, Jason Chaffetz, has not lifted a finger. He has not requested a single solitary scrap of paper. Not one.
Think about where we are right now.
General Flynn flew to Moscow to have a lavish dinner with Vladimir Putin and celebrate the Kremlin-backed media outlet RT. According to our own U.S. intelligence officials, RT is the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”
Flynn now admits that he got paid for that trip. But he refuses to say how much. He may have violated the Constitution in the process. As a retired officer, he may not accept foreign emoluments. The Pentagon is investigating, and we may hear back from them this week.
Flynn was secretly communicating with Russian officials at the same time Russia was attacking our democracy. Flynn may have violated the Logan Act by discussing the sanctions imposed by the United States in response to Russia’s attacks.
We have no idea why Flynn was doing all this and why he was trying so desperately to help Russia. But the obvious questions are, what did the President know, and when did he know it? Was he aware of Flynn’s efforts? Did he support them?
Last night, we learned that the Justice Department warned the White House Counsel three weeks ago that Flynn secretly talked with the Russians about sanctions and may have lied about it to the Vice President. The Department warned that the National Security Adviser was at risk of being blackmailed by the Russian government. That was three weeks ago.
So why did the President say on Friday he did not know anything about Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador?
Did the White House Counsel really never tell the President? Because if that’s true, I cannot see how the White House Counsel could stay in his position. That would be a major national security breach not to inform the President of such a serious charge.
Why did Flynn continue to sit in on the most sensitive, classified meetings until two days ago? Who at the White House decided to do nothing for three weeks as Flynn sat in on meeting after meeting? Did the President decide to wait?
I believe we need to hold a public hearing with Flynn to get to the bottom of this. We need to get his security clearance documents to find out if he was honest on those forms, and we need to know how much he got paid to have dinner with Vladimir Putin.
But that is only the beginning. We need to hear from the White House Counsel, we need to hear from the Justice Department, and most of all, we need to hear from the President.
Thank you, Madame Leader.