Email #147: “credible allegations”?

Thank you for your form letter regarding the range of investigations into the Trump administration.

You say that your House Judiciary Committee will “investigate any credible allegations of criminal activity by the Executive Branch,” and you list three specific areas of oversight that you say you will conduct as chair:

1) “misconduct of executive branch officials,”

2) “allegations of leaks of classified information,” and

3) “improper interference with our democratic institutions or efforts to improperly or illegally interfere with our election.”

You also state that you oppose “ineffectual,” “disruptive” or “politically-charged” inquiries that “only satisfy the interests of narrow constituencies” or “jeopardize the integrity of the very investigations called for by the resolutions.”

As an apparent result, you prevented your committee from approving three resolutions of inquiry that would have asked the Attorney General for information relating to:

1) “criminal or counterintelligence investigations targeting President Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and other White House personnel,”

2) “any Trump investments involving foreign agents or governments, records of communication between Trump campaign or transition employees with the Russian government,” and

3) “and any record relating to the president’s Twitter postings on March 4, 2017” (which accuse President Obama of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the election campaign).

Removing your statements of opinion regarding these two lists, it is impossible to determine why you consider only the first three to be “credible.”

Criminal and counterintelligence investigation into the President, his former National Security Advisor, and other White House employees falls clearly under your first “credible” category: “misconduct of executive branch officials.” The media has reported a range of disturbing allegations regarding Michael Flynn, including his undisclosed employment by Russian agencies. Are you suggesting that all of these reports are false or otherwise not “credible”?

Similarly, the U.S. intelligence community unanimously concluded that Russia attempted to influence the Presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s campaign and therefore promoting Donald Trump’s. Moreover, at least three individuals with major roles in the Trump campaign are under investigation for their ties to Russia. And yet according to your letter, requests for information regarding communications between members of the Trump campaign and Russian are not “credible” but are instead “ineffectual,” “disruptive” and “politically-charged.”

Ironically, one item on your two lists does appear motivated to “only satisfy the interests of narrow constituencies.” That’s your own request into the leaks that revealed Michael Flynn’s previously undisclosed connection to Russia and led to his resignation. Rather than investigating Flynn himself, you only wish to investigate the White House whistle-blower who outed him.  What constituents would this satisfy?

You say “it is important to maintain effective and strong oversight of the other branches of government” and that you “take Congress’s role to uphold our constitutional framework of three co-equal branches of government very seriously.” You also assure me “that whichever political party occupies the White House, I will continue to uphold our Constitution and its system of three coequal branches that are accountable to the American people.”

However, your other statements—including those within the very letter attempting to assure me—provide evidence of exactly the opposite. You appear to be motivated solely by the party occupying the White House, ignoring and even blocking attempts at oversight of the Trump administration for political reasons.

Misconduct is misconduct. All investigations are “disruptive” to those being investigated, and any investigation of a sitting president is necessarily “politically-charged.” These are not excuses to ignore and block them–they are reasons for you to steer these needed investigations through a fair, vigorous, and transparent process. Please place your Constitutional responsibilities ahead of your political affiliation and hold the executive branch accountable.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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