Western Pa. GOP lawmakers have little to say about Flynn investigation
Toomey on Flynn uproar: 'Where did these leaks come from?'
February 14, 2017 10:31 PM
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Protesters participate in a "Tuesdays with Toomey" rally on Valentine's Day at Station Square.
Evan Vucci/Associated Press
Michael Flynn in the east Room of the White House on Monday after President Donald Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Never mind figuring out what Michael Flynn told a Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions in December: The real challenge may be finding a Republican who wants an independent review of what happened.
General Flynn stepped down as National Security adviser late Monday, amid reports he urged the Russians not to retaliate against new sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration in December. Such interactions before a new administration takes office are highly unusual, and potentially illegal.
Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation “should push for a full independent investigation,” said Phil Williams, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
The sanctions had been imposed after intelligence agencies concluded that Russia released hacked Democratic emails to help Mr. Trump win the election. And Mr. Williams said General Flynn “was directly undermining the Obama Administration’s policies and telling the Russians that they had nothing to worry about after interfering. … A full investigation is essential, including the Russian interference, the Russian links with the Trump campaign, and the financial links between Trump and Russia.”
Republican representatives did not call for any investigation at all. The office of Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, offered a one-sentence statement via email: “It appears that [General Flynn] was not forthcoming, and as a result I support President Trump’s decision to accept his resignation as national security advisor.”
Similarly, the office of Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said in a statement that “Congressman Murphy believes General Flynn made the right decision to resign.”
Neither Congressman’s office responded to a follow-up query about their position on the need for investigations.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, for his part, sounded at least as concerned with the source of the Flynn story as with the conversation itself. “If there was something inappropriate in the discussion between General Flynn and a Russian, then by all means we ought to look into that,” he told reporters Tuesday. But he also asked: “How did the intelligence community come upon this information in the first place? … Also where did these leaks come from? Who made these leaks?”
According to reports, the call was captured in a routine wiretap of diplomatic phone calls.
(Christopher Dolan/The Citizens' Voice via AP)
“If there was something inappropriate in the discussion between General Flynn and a Russian, then by all means we ought to look into that,” Pat Toomey said. But he also asked: “Where did these leaks come from? Who made these leaks?”
Mr. Toomey, a longtime critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, did say Russia “has grossly abused its own people,” and said he was “in favor of holding the sanctions that we have imposed and stiffening the sanctions.” An investigation seems possible in the Senate: Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it was “highly likely” the intelligence committee would review General Flynn’s departure.
But U.S. Rep Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat, said Congress should appoint an independent special counsel to review the matter. “I think there needs to be an independent investigation to find out whether he did this at the behest of the President or anyone else,” he said. “I don’t think these should be partisan issues, and it shouldn’t be a partisan investigation.”
“The president has shown a propensity to go after people in his own party, just like … anyone else who challenges his actions. … I guess certain people must feel intimidated or bullied by that,” Mr. Doyle said.
Laura Rosenberger, a Pittsburgh-area native who served on the National Security Council during the Obama administration and advised Hillary Clinton’s campaign on security issues, said that “Flynn’s interaction with the Russians is just the latest piece of evidence of concerning ties between Trump’s world and the Russians.” His departure “only further highlights the need for a bipartisan, independent commission to look into the Russians’ efforts to interfere in our democratic process.”
A statement from Senator Bob Casey struck a similar note, calling the resignation “just the tip of the iceberg. … There should be an independent and thorough investigation” — of General Flynn and of “the Administration’s conduct regarding Russia. The American people deserve to know what the President knew, when he knew it and what actions he took” when the Justice Department reportedly raised concerns with the White House last month.
Mr. Williams, the Pitt professor, said he expects the White House to “adopt a faux hard line” on Russia, in light of the controversy, and reports that the country is deploying cruise missiles barred by arms treaties. “But that will only last until the dust has settled — if the dust does settle.”
Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello contributed. Chris Potter: email@example.com.
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