“What are the Republicans in Congress afraid of?”
By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
There’s some kind of a sick and nefarious game being played out in national politics right now. It’s called, “Special Prosecutor, Special Prosecutor, Who’s Got the Special Prosecutor?”
Even as Congressman Darrel Issa walked back part of his solitary Republican call for a special prosecutor to look into Trump’s ties to Russia, White House press spokesguy Sean Spicer, was denying the need for one and that it would all be a waste of time. When pressed by a reporter to respond to Issa’s call for a special investigator, at a news briefing Monday, Feb. 27, Spicer said:
“ A special prosecutor for what?”
On Friday, Issa said on “Real Time with Bill Maher” he now believed that a special prosecutor should be appointed to begin an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, as well as whether anyone with Trump’s campaign had contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.
Issa stated on the show, with regards to an investigation:
“ You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute – and office.”
Sitting with Bill Maher, Darrel Issa said something very pointed about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“You are right that you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine — Jeff Sessions — who was on the campaign and who was an appointee.”
So why did Issa think there was a need for an independent investigator? He told Maher:
“Here’s the reason we’re going to have to do it, Bill. There may or may not be fault, but the American people who are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies — sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there — he’s murdered people and taken down [sic] using cyberwarfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people…”
But by Monday, it was clear that somebody had leaned on to Issa over the weekend.
In an interview with CBS News Monday, Issa now pointed to the prerequisite of a crime being involved. He said:
“I certainly could see where if there is an allegation of a crime at some point, the call for a special prosecutor makes sense. I think it’s very important to realize there’s been no allegation by any part of this administration or by anyone who’s been to the hearings about any crimes.”
“So one of the challenges we have is a special prosecutor exists when you have an individual under suspicion. Currently we don’t have that.”
The entire issue of the need for a special prosecutor or special commission to get to the bottom of the ever-widening and developing scandal was again raised late last week when the Washington Post reported:
The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, …
Who were these senior members of Congress enlisted by the White House?
They included none other than Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), – both of these Republicans are the chairmen of their respective Senate and House intelligence committees. That they were contacted by the White House and that they then turned around and contacted journalists in efforts to squash the story have been confirmed by both Burr and Nunes. It must be noted that Nunes has been a Trump supporter for a long time and was on his “executive transition” team. And both of these senior lawmakers had access to classified intelligence about Russia.
Nunes admitted he spoke to reporters in attempts to knock down the White House – Russian story, “at the request of a White House communications aide”.
Likewise, Burr confirmed he “had conversations about” Russia with Trump people and had contacted news organizations in order to dispute reports by CNN and the New York Times saying there was substantial contact between campaign members and Russian Intel officials.
So here’s the top two Republicans who are supposed to chair and lead their intelligence committees into investigating the ties between the Trump campaign and high-level Russian intelligence officers – and who have been now totally compromised by their admitted efforts to squash those reports that tie the White House to Russia – all on behalf of the White House. See how sick a game this is? It’s sick because it’s so partisan – evidenced by Burr and Nunes placing party above country.
MSNBC commented, calling the development, “extraordinary.”
While Burr and Nunes were supposed to be overseeing investigations into the Russia scandal, they were also cooperating with the White House, telling reporters not to take the Russia scandal seriously.
In other words, the investigators were undermining their own investigation – at the behest of those being investigated.
This new revelation of GOP leaders’ efforts to try to kill the story was condemned by the leading Democrats on those committees and has renewed calls for an independent investigation.
Then Monday, the sick game got twisted even more when Nunes – from California – said claims that Trump’s campaign had contact with Russian security agents held no validity. Nunes asserted he had not seen any evidence from the U.S. intelligence community pointing to collusion or even substantial contacts with the Kremlin by anybody on the Trump campaign.
“The way it sounds like to me is, it’s been looked into and there’s no evidence of anything there.”
“As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist. What I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there.”
In fact, he likened any investigation being called for as a witch hunt and a return to McCarthyism.
“This is almost like McCarthyism revisited. We’re going to go on a witch hunt against, against innocent Americans …?”
Of course, this denial of any lack of evidence flies in the face of reports that the FBI and NSA intercepted calls between high-placed members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence agents reportedly beginning last summer. These reports were bolstered by multiple U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.
On the other side of the aisle, the issue of a special prosecutor or commission is much more in the forefront of political thinking.
Just before she resigned as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile called for an independent investigation into Russia’s influence into the 2016 presidential election. In a statement, Brazile warned:
“Now we learn that top members of Donald Trump’s team are trying to keep the American people in the dark about what happened. To turn our White House into a black box. That is called a ‘cover-up,’”.
“There’s a name for this kind of government, and it’s not democracy.”
“…We have to have an independent special prosecutor to get to the bottom of what happened last year, or we are never going to move past this as a country.”
Brazile also brought up another thorn in the special prosecutor tote bag. She stated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot lead an investigation of this significance:
“That investigation cannot be overseen by Jeff Sessions, who is himself a top member of Trump’s team — the same team that we now know is trying to cover up what happened.
And we also need an independent 9-11-style Commission to figure out what we need to do now as a nation to keep this from ever happening to our country again.”
Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, has been the leading Democrat pushing for investigations into the allegations – but she definitely has a problem with Attorney General Sessions. She told a reporter that Sessions “must recuse himself” from any investigation into possible Trump team ties to Russia. Pelosi was also very critical of Nunes’ declaration that there wasn’t anything there:
“If [Nunes] knew that from classified information, he shouldn’t be saying that. This is called stonewalling. What are the Republicans in Congress afraid of?”
Pelosi mocked Nunes’ comment:
“‘We haven’t looked into it but we know there’s nothing there.’ Please. It’s just ridiculous. … that really raises serious questions about stonewalling.”
It was just Monday that Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Minority Whip, stated he believed the nation needed an independent commission and a special prosecutor because of his fears the White House may attempt to cover-up the links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The downfall does not come from the crime, it comes from the cover-up, and that’s what we’re dealing with now.”
“We need to know if anyone in the Trump campaign had any direct conversations with someone from Russia. It’s hard to imagine how some of these leaks could have been so conveniently timed if there wasn’t coordination.”
“It has to reach a point where we have public sentiment strong enough that we launch an independent, transparent investigation of what the Russians did to us. Think [the] 9/11 [commission].”
So, where does all this leave us? Clearly, the Senate and House Intelligence committee investigations have been compromised. House Republicans – who were so hell-bent on conducting years of an investigation into Benghazi and also into Clinton’s emails – apparently are not troubled by the allegations and are ready to let Trump slide, all in hopes that they can blast the country with their agenda – tax cuts, ACA repeals and the gutting of social programs.
Who does that leave to carry out an investigation? It leaves the Department of Justice with its new head, Jeff Sessions, a member of the Trump campaign team. That’s not promising.
Well, that leaves the FBI – which is supposedly conducting 3 different investigations into the Trump White House. But based on Director Comey’s behavior and intervention into the 2016 Presidential campaign, any Comey-directed inquiry would be suspect at the get-go.
This leaves the nation without any credible investigation into exactly what the President knew and when did he know it?
Except for a special prosecutor. We need one. This is not a game – we need an independent, transparent investigation by a special prosecutor and a special commission.