President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is especially true of politicians, who <ahem> sometimes are full of hot air. Even Donald Trump agreed, saying, “People are tired of seeing politicians as all talk and no action.”
Well, Donny, be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it!
Republicans control both chambers of Congress. So unfortunately, Trump cannot and will not be impeached without Republican support. The harsh reality for Trump is that some Congressional Republicans have taken action against him. The Senate Judiciary, Senate Intelligence, and House Intelligence Committees, all chaired by Republicans, launched “TrumpRussia” investigations months ago.
Forget what these Republicans might say in interviews or during hearings. Instead, focus on their actions. Congressional committee chairs exert full control over their respective committees, so the mere fact that Republicans are allowingthe investigation of a sitting president of their own party is a BIG deal.
While Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Richard Burr, and Rep. Mike Conaway, have taken action and launched investigations of Trump, House Judiciary Committee Chair,Rep. Bob “Not-So” Goodlatte, has STONEWALLED all TrumpRussia-related activities.
President Lincoln was right. Actions do speak louder than words. And so does INACTION.
Leaving aside (for the moment) impeachment obstructionist Not-So-Goodlatte, what has Congress done to investigate TrumpRussia thus far?
March 20 — House Intelligence
A few weeks before then-FBI Director James Comey testified at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump predictably went on a Twitter tirade, alleging that Obama “tapped” his phones, including tweeting these two “gems”:
Right out of the gate in his opening statement, Rep. Adam Schiff shot down Trump’s baseless claims, saying that the committee, “found no evidence whatsoever to support that slanderous accusation.”
Comey piled on, saying, “We have no information to support those tweets,” and added, “All I can tell you is that we have no information that supports them.”
On the morning of the hearing, right before Comey testified, Trump tweeted again in a seemingly desperate attempt to deflect from what would prove to be devastating testimony.
Trump, who swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution, didn’t ask Congress to investigate how Russia interfered to throw the election, but instead, urged Congress to investigate leaks!
Just as Trump feared, Comey publicly confirmed for the first time that, in late July, the FBI launched its ongoing investigation into potential coordination and conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, saying, “the FBI…is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts…(and) whether any crimes were committed.”
Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff aptly summed up TrumpRussia, “Many of the Trump’s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia…if the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of democracy in history.”
House investigators also asked Comey about Roger Stone Jr., a Trump aide and longtime partner of Paul Manafort. Stone publicly bragged about his contact with Guccifer 2.0, a front for Russian intelligence that hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Comey “glomared” (would neither confirm nor deny) on whether Stone was a target of the FBI’s investigation. Stone, in his typical, pugilistic style, tweeted his response to Comey’s testimony:
Guess what, Rog? Your “time in the barrel” will be coming very soon! Stone is scheduled to testify at a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on September 26.
The day after Comey’s hearing, Devin Nunes went on his now-infamous late-night escapade to speak with a “whistleblower” at the White House, and then leaked classified information to the media about incidental collection of SIGINT (signals intelligence) of the Trump transition team.
News flash — if you chitchat with Russian spies, you should expect that our intelligence services are listening!
After Devin “pulled a Nunes,” the House Intel’s investigation stalled until Nunes (sort of) recused himself a few weeks later after the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation of allegations that “Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”
May 3 — Senate Judiciary
Just a few days before being fired by Trump, then-FBI Director Comey gave explosive testimony in which he confirmed that the FBI’S TrumpRussia investigation was now being coordinated with career prosecutors in two divisions within the Department of Justice (DOJ): National Security Division and Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA). The FBI investigates potential crimes, but cannot bring charges. That’s where the DOJ prosecutors come in. Thus, Comey’s testimony indicated that the TrumpRussia investigation had moved, at least partly, into prosecution mode.
Just days after Comey’s testimony, the existence of multiple TrumpRussia grand juries was revealed. A few weeks later, NBC News reported that multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests were issued regarding Trump aides, Michael “Misha” Flynn and Paul Manafort, and in August, the Wall Street Journal confirmedthat at least one TrumpRussia grand jury had been convened in EDVA before Mueller was appointed in May, and another TrumpRussia grand jury had been convened in Washington, D.C, a location notable for its jurisdiction over residents of the White House.
What was Not-So-Goodlatte’s response to all of this?
May 4 — House Intelligence
After Nunes (sort of) recused, the House probe got back on track with Republican Rep. Mike Conaway taking the reins, along with Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff. Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), testified at a classified (closed) hearing that Conaway deemed, “successful.”
May 8 — Senate Judiciary
In a must-see TV event, former acting Attorney General, “American Hero” Sally Yates, and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, Jr., testified at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham. Shockingly, Republican Senator Graham specifically scheduled this hearing to focus “on Russian interference in the 2016 election” and allowed Sally Yates to testify in public after Trump fired her. (Remember, ACTIONS speak louder than words.)
Clapper confirmed that, in late 2015, Britain intelligence informed U.S. intelligence agencies of suspicious interactions between Trump advisers and Russian intelligence agents, and in spring of 2016, multiple European allies provided additional information about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.
Clapper also testified that he “unmasked” the name of a U.S. person incidentally captured in SIGINT, who was BOTH a Trump associate and a Member of Congress, which begs the question: WHO WAS UNMASKED? Sessions, Pompeo, or Nunes? Someone else?
Several months later, Clapper unloaded this bombshell, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett:
“Our intelligence community assessment did cast doubt on the legitimacy of his (Trump’s) victory in the election.” ~Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Jr.
In explosive testimony, Yates detailed multiple meetings with the White House, beginning on January 26, in which Yates repeatedly warned White House Counsel Donald McGahn that Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials were making (perhaps unknowingly) false statements regarding then-National Security Advisor Misha Flynn’s conversations in December with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Specifically, Pence and other officials had publicly denied that Misha Flynn discussed easing Russian sanctions with Kislyak, when, in fact, Flynn and Kislyak discussed exactly that.
Yates stated that this, “created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.” Yates also testified that she and McGahn discussed prosecution of Flynn, including “certain criminal statutes.”
Sally Yates said that she went “to tell the White House about something we were very concerned about and emphasized to them repeatedly. It was so they could take action.”
“You don’t want your national security advisor compromised with the Russians.” ~Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates
On January 31, Trump “took action” and fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
Did Bob Not-So Goodlatte direct his committee to fulfill its constitutional obligation as one of the three, co-equal branches of government and investigate why a top DOJ official was fired immediately after warning the White House that its National Security Advisor was compromised by Russia and faced criminal charges?
Nope. Not-So-Goodlatte didn’t do anything.
Despite Sally Yates’ repeated warnings that Misha Flynn was compromised, could be blackmailed by Russia, and allegedly committed crimes, Flynn remained as National Security Advisor for another 18 days.
On January 28th, just days AFTER Yates’ repeated warnings, Misha Flynn joined Trump on an hour-long telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Several weeks later, on February 9th, the “Amazon” Washington Post brokethe story that, despite multiple public denials by top White House officials, including Pence, Misha Flynn did discuss dropping sanctions with Kislyak. Flynn finally was fired on February 13th.
On February 14th, Sean Spicer, then-White House press secretary confirmed that Trump knew about Yates’ warnings that Flynn was compromised, saying, “Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House counsel of the situation, the White House counsel briefed the president and a small group of senior advisors,” adding, “There was nothing in what General Flynn did in terms of conducting himself that was an issue.”
The White House confirmed that Trump knew that Misha Flynn was compromised, could be blackmailed by Russia, and was likely facing criminal charges, yet included Flynn on an hour-long call to Putin. How…curious.
Later, Trump tweeted that Flynn should ask for immunity, despite the fact that Flynn himself had previously stated that only people who have committed a crime need immunity.
So why was Misha Flynn fired, if, as the White House asserted, Flynn did “nothing…that was an issue”? And why would Flynn need immunity?
On May 9, one day after the hearing, Trump “took action” and fired FBI Director Comey.
Did Bob Not-So-Goodlatte take any action? Did his Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility over the FBI, hold any hearings or even ask a single question as to why Trump fired the man investigating him and his campaign for allegedly conspiring with Russia to throw the election?
You guessed it — Not-So-Goodlatte did ZILCH.
May 11 — Senate Intelligence
Acting FBI Director Andrew McGabe and others testified at an open hearing unrelated to TrumpRussia.
When asked if Trump’s firing of Comey would impede the FBI, McGabe asserted, “Quite simply put sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution.”
McCabe also testified that innocent people typically do not need to be reassured that they’re not being targeted in an investigation. Yet Trump needed repeated reassurances? How…odd.
Senator Ron Wyden shed light as to why Trump might need repeated reassurances, saying, “Donald Trump urged the Russians to hack his opponents. He also said repeatedly that he loved WikiLeaks. So the question is not whether Donald Trump actively encouraged the Russians and WikiLeaks to attack our democracy, he did; that is an established fact. The only question is whether he or someone associated with him coordinated with the Russians.”
Well, that explains it!
Meanwhile, what action did Not-So-Goodlatte take to investigate Russia’s attack on our democracy?
May 23 — House Intelligence
With Devin “pulling a Nunes” out of the picture, the House Intelligence Committee held an open hearing on Russian active measures during the 2016 campaign. Former CIA Director John Brennan testified that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the election and actively contacted members of Trump’s campaign before the election.
Brennan ominously added, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.”
“Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.” Former CIA Director John Brennan
May 31 — House Intelligence
The House Intelligence Committee continued to advance its TrumpRussia probe and issued subpoenas for testimony, documents and business records from Misha Flynn and Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Has Bob Goodlatte issued any subpoenas relating to TrumpRussia? Has Not-So-Goodlatte even asked one, single question?
You guessed right. Not-So-Goodlatte hasn’t done bupkis.
June 7 — Senate Intelligence
A few weeks prior to the June 7th Senate Intelligence Committee open hearing on FISA warrants, the “Amazon” Washington Post reported that Trump urged the director of national intelligence (DNI), Daniel Coats, and NSA Director Rogers to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
A day before the hearing, the Post reported that Trump asked DNI Coats for more than just a public denial. Coats told associates in March that Trump, “asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe.”
(Gee, that sounds an awful lot like “obstruction of justice,” doesn’t it? And someone even filed an impeachment resolution against Trump for EXACTLY that, yet Not-So-Goodlatte is doing NOTHING to investigate!)
After his encounter with Trump, DNI Coats reportedly decided that intervening with Comey to obstruct the TrumpRussia probe, as Trump had requested, would be “inappropriate.”
During the hearing, DNI Coats and NSA Rogers refused to answer whether Trump asked for them to make public denials or to pressure the FBI to shut down its investigation. Coats said, “I am not prepared to go down that road right now.” Rogers repeatedly said that he wouldn’t comment on conversations with the President.
June 8 — Senate Intelligence
On June 8, otherwise know as national “call-in-sick day,” former FBI Director Comey testified at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s second open hearing in as many days. Republican Senator Burr allowed Comey to testify publicly and to provide what would prove to be devastating testimony for Trump.
A few weeks before the hearing, in a likely response to the “failing” New York Times’ report that Trump demanded personal “loyalty” from Comey, Trump posted one in a series of tweets that some legal experts believe may represent witness tampering:
When asked about Trump’s tweet, Comey infamously exclaimed:
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” ~Former FBI Director James Comey
In his opening statement, released the night before his testimony, Comey revealed that he took notes after every meeting with Trump, despite never having done so after one-on-one meetings with Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama.
Comey wrote, “I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past.”
When Senator Burr asked Comey why he felt the need to make a written record of his meetings with Trump, Comey answered, “the nature of the person: I was honestly concerned that he (Trump) might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”
During a private dinner with Trump on January 27, just one day after Sally Yates warned the White House that Misha Flynn had been compromised by the Russians, Comey testified that Trump had attempted to “create some sort of patronage relationship that concerned (Comey) greatly.”
Comey added, “A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.” Comey later added, “(Trump) then said, ‘I need loyalty.’ I replied, ‘You will always get honesty from me.’ He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty.’”
Comey also disclosed that, after a meeting in the Oval Office on February 14, Trump dismissed everyone from the room to speak with Comey alone. During this one-on-one meeting, Comey said that Trump asked him to “let this go” and drop the FBI’s investigation of Misha Flynn, which Comey refused to do.
Trump knew that Flynn was compromised, could be blackmailed by Russia, and likely would be charged with crimes, yet Trump pressured Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation.
When Senator Burr asked whether Flynn was in “serious legal jeopardy”when Trump asked Comey to, “see (his) way clear…to letting Flynn go,” Comey responded, “General Flynn, at that point in time, was in legal jeopardy.” Comey also suggested that Flynn made false statements to federal officials (yet another crime!), saying “I’m not going to go into the details, but whether there were false statements made to government investigators, as well.”
On May 10, the day after Trump fired Comey, Trump hostedRussia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a private meeting in the Oval Office with only Russian media present. Trump reportedly bragged to the Russians, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Then, on May 11, two days after firing Comey, Trump admitted on national television that he fired Comey because of “this Russia thing.”
During his testimony on June 8, when Senate investigators asked why he was fired, Comey bluntly replied:
“I was fired because of the Russia investigation.” ~Former FBI Director James Comey on why Trump fired him.
Comey added that Trump, “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple.”
When Senator Martin Heinrich asked if Trump ever had asked Comey how the intelligence services could protect the U.S. from Russian interference in future elections, Comey responded, “I don’t recall a conversation like that.”
Heinrich pressed, “Never?” Comey answered, “No.”
Trump never has expressed any concern about protecting the U.S. from a hostile attack on our democracy. Instead, Trump only has been concerned about shutting down the TrumpRussia investigation.
On July 12, Rep. Brad Sherman had seen enough and filed the first impeachment resolution against Donald Trump for obstructing justice by “threatening, and then terminating” Comey. Soon after, the “failing” New York Timesreported that Trump and Stephen Miller wrote a draft letter to inform Comey of his firing, but White House counsel McGahn “blocked” sending it and called it legally “problematic.” Trump’s draft letter is now in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, III, and may provide further evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
Rep. Sherman’s impeachment resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further action. And what has Bob Goodlatte done?
Not-So-Goodlatte’s done NOTHING, other than to watch grass grow.
Over the summer, the Senate Judiciary, Senate Intelligence and House Intelligence Committees were busy beavers and worked through the recess on their respective TrumpRussia investigations:
· On July 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Grassley, subpoenaed Glenn Simpson, co-founder of GPS Fusion, the firm that commissioned the Steele Dossier, but later dropped the subpoena after Simpson agreed to meet. On August 22, Simpson spoke with committee staff for more than 10 hours.
· On July 24, Trump’s son-in-law and “Secretary of Everything,” Jared Kushner, met privately with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators, and on July 26, he was questioned for nearly 3 hours by Members of the House Intelligence Committee.
· On July 25, Manafort was interviewed privately by Senate Intelligence Committee staff.
· Over the summer, the Grassley’s Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, to turn over documents and to testify. The committee then believed that Manafort would cooperate and rescinded its subpoena. By mid-September, Manafort’s lawyers stopped returning the committee’s calls, and Grassley threatened to subpoenaManafort again to compel his testimony.
Did Bob Goodlatte do anything over the summer to protect our democracy from Russian interference in future elections?
During the summer, Junior cut a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee and underwent a private interview on September 7. In his opening statement that he leaked to the press in violation of his agreed terms with the committee, Junior claimed that he met with the Russian Lawyer to assess Hillary Clinton’s “fitness” for office.
After Junior was interviewed for four hours by the Senate Judiciary panel, Senator Coons emailed the media the U.S. statute on punishments for lying or withholding information from Congress. Sen. Blumenthal didn’t buy Junior’s testimony either, and said that Junior’s Russian Lawyer Meeting “signaled to the Russians we (the Trump campaign) are open for business, we’re ready to deal.’”
Senator Dianne Feinstein piled on and said:
Junior will testify publicly, “come hell or high water.”~Senator Dianne Feinstein
In mid-September, the Senate Intelligence Committee scheduled a private interview of Trump’s “consigliere” (personal attorney), Michael Cohen, to discuss Trump Tower Moscow, which was being negotiated during Trump’s campaign, among multiple, other TrumpRussia-related matters. Bizarrely, the committee abruptly cancelled the interview after its intended start time. Senators were reportedly incensed, because Cohen violated their agreement and leaked his opening statement to the media, allowing only his side of the story to be heard by the public. (After Kushner and Junior pulled the same move, the committee changed its terms with witnesses, and barred the public release of any testimony.) Senators Burr and Warner said that Cohen now will testify at an open hearing “in the near future.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Republicans have subpoenaed multiple members of Team Trump, are threatening to subpoena Trump’s former campaign chairman, Manafort, and Trump’s son, Junior, and will compel Trump’s personal lawyer to testify in PUBLIC!
And what has Not-So-Goodlatte done?
Grassley and Feinstein “invited” embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on October 18 to answer questions about previously undisclosed meetings Sessions had with Russians, including why Sessions lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about third meeting that he, Kushner and others held with former Russian ambassador Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel.
The House Judiciary Committee also has important oversight responsibilities over DOJ, yet its chair, Rep. Not-So-Goodlatte, has BLOCKED the committee from asking a single question about Sessions’ meetings with Russians, probing Trump’s firing of Comey, investigating Rep. Sherman’s obstruction charge against Trump, or doing anything else related to TrumpRussia.
But hey, at least Not-So-Goodlatte is investigating HILLARY CLINTON’S EMAILS (really!).
In mid-September, in a highly unusual move, every Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee walked out on Bob Not-So-Goodlatte in protest, because Not-So-Goodlatte “sabotaged” a resolution to request information from the Trump administration regarding Trump’s firing of Comey and Sessions’ involvement in that decision.
The Constitution dictates that Congress is supposed to exert appropriate oversight of the Executive Branch. In particular, the House Judiciary Committee is tasked with oversight of DOJ, including Sessions’ many troubling TrumpRussia-related issues, Trump’s alleged interference with the TrumpRussia probe, and Trump’s firing of Comey.
Yet Not-So-Goodlatte refuses to fulfill his constitutionally mandated oversight role.
Enough is enough, Bob. There’s plenty “there” there. And we Americans want to know where you stand.
Does Goodlatte stand with us and our democracy, or does Not-So-Goodlatte stand with Trump and Putin?
Ask Rep. Not-So-Goodlatte where he stands:
Phone: (202) 225–5431 and Twitter: @RepGoodlatte
This article was originally published on Medium on September 24, 2017.
About the author: Dr. Dena Grayson is medical doctor (MD), biochemist (PhD), and former Democratic candidate for Congress. Dr. Grayson is married to progressive champion and former Congressman Alan Grayson.