Feb. 14, 2017 – Statement by Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn
Democracy, and the American voters’ faith in it, depends on free and fair elections. Voters deserve an impartial investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race by a Bipartisan Select Committee. The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn only raises more questions about communications and possible links between the Trump team and the government of Vladimir Putin. It also begs more serious questions about what President Trump knew and when.
Today, we learn that last month then-Acting-Attorney General Sally Yates informed the White House that Flynn had lied about the nature of his calls with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak which left him vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Yates was later fired for a legal judgment she issued on the president’s executive order on immigration, but the fact that she now factors into the questions about Flynn raise concerns. Three of the highest profile people forced out by the Trump campaign or administration all have ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. During the election Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who had long client relationships in Russia and the former Soviet Union, was jettisoned. Americans need to be convinced through a thorough nonpartisan investigation that the Trump team is putting the nation’s best interest first and is not beholden to any foreign government.
A handful of separate Senate committees, with already full agendas, are planning hearings on several aspects of Russia’s influence on the 2016 Elections and the Trump Administration. This scattered and competing approach by a series of committees all controlled by the members of the President’s own party is not the best way to seek the truth, nor is it the best way to restore public confidence in the government’s ability to safeguard our elections from foreign or domestic tampering.
The public’s faith in our election, our national security, and the need to clarify the connections of the Trump Administration and Vladimir Putin require a comprehensive investigation that can only be accomplished by a joint-, bi-partisan, Select Committee that should be convened immediately. The evidence continues to mount of communications and connections between the Russian government and former Trump campaign and Administration officials and we are now past the time when Americans can be reassured by investigations controlled by members of the President’s own party. Too many times we have seen congressional committees whitewash the damning findings of their own investigations for political expediency.
When it comes to the security of our democracy, the nation must rely on former President Reagan’s rule of “trust but verify.” The stakes are simply too high to leave any room for doubt that an investigation of Russian interference in our elections was full, fair and unbiased.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. www.commoncause.org