Email #162: “a full explanation of the facts”?

National security adviser H. R. McMaster told reporters Monday evening:

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false… I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

McMaster was of course referring to reports that the President revealed highly classified information to Russian officials. Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell also stated:

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Despite these and other initial denials from White House staff, the President confirmed the reports in a Tuesday morning tweet:

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Although the President is allowed to use classified however he likes, his actions concern many members of his own party. Republican Senator John McCain tweeted Monday evening:

“If true, deeply disturbing…”

Republican Senator Bob Corker told reporters:

“To compromise a source is something you just don’t do.”

Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher said Tuesday morning:

“For the purpose of transparency, the White House should share a transcript of the meeting with the House and Senate intelligence committees.”

Republican Rep. Justin Amash agreed:

“The administration should promptly share with Congress, in a classified setting, the precise details of the president’s meeting.”

Even Republican Speaker Paul Ryan announced:

“protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount. The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

By yesterday afternoon, Republican Senator Thom Tillis joined:

“If it is in fact true that this information was shared with the Russian ambassador, it seems to me it’d be O.K. to be shared with U.S. senators.”

Republican Senator Susan Collins said:

“The disclosure of highly classified information has the potential to jeopardize sources and to discourage our allies from sharing future information vital to our security.”

Republican Senator Tom Cotton said:

“I suspect the administration will brief the Congress more fully on exactly what transpired.”

Even your fellow Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock said:

“We need to have immediate classified briefings on what occurred at this meeting so that Congress can at least know as much as Russian leaders and know the impact on our national security, our allies, and our men and women protecting our country.”

And yet you, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, have said nothing. Instead your office posted a press release late afternoon yesterday titled “Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Strengthen Immigration Enforcement,” boasting about a set of anti-sanctuary-city measures you are co-sponsoring. While I’m sure you’re very proud of your bill, the timing of the irrelevant press release underscores your silence on the historical crisis facing Congress. Oversight of the executive branch is your most vital responsibility, one you are ignoring despite your Republican colleagues’ demands for the President to explain his actions to Congress.

Since you are demonstrating such an inability or reluctance to fulfill your constitutional duty, I ask that you please step aside as chair and ask Speaker Ryan to assign leadership of the Judiciary to a more capable and willing Republican.

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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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