President Donald Trump's former national security adviser did not properly disclose payments from Russia and does not appear to have complied with the law, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings said Tuesday after reviewing Michael Flynn's application for a security clearance.Chaffetz has been a Trump toady, but now that he's leaving Congress, he seems to have changed his approach -- at least with regard to Flynn. And although he and Elijah Cummings appeared together today, he's getting more of the headlines, and not just at conservative sites like The Right Scoop ("Chaffetz: Flynn may have violated the LAW when he took money from Russia and Turkey"). The Twitter "Moment" for this story goes to Chaffetz ("Rep. Jason Chaffetz calls out Flynn over Russia payments").
Chaffetz and Cummings announced their findings to reporters on the Hill following a classified gathering of the committee in which they reviewed documents that Cummings described as "extremely troubling."
"I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law," Chaffetz said, referring to whether Flynn received permission from the Pentagon or the State Department or that he disclosed the more than $45,000 he was paid for a speech he gave to RT-TV in Russia.
The Trump administration is still stonewalling:
... the White House declined to provide documents related to Flynn that the panel investigating him had requested, according to a letter obtained by CNN.However, at least one Trump-affiliated media organization has been selling the notion that, yes, there's something to Russiagate, but no, it's all the fault of Flynn and other former Trump aides.
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short outlined in a letter to the House oversight committee how it would not complete the request from the panel, referring some requests to the Department of Defense, saying the office doesn't have custody of some of the other documents or simply stating "we are unable to accommodate" others.
That media organization is The National Enquirer, which is run by Trump pal David Pecker, and which ran many stories helpful to Trump during the campaign, including fake-news reports on Hillary Clinton's supposedly poor health and Ted Cruz's father alleged involvement in the JFK assassination. Back in March, John Aravosis noticed that the Enquirer was describing Flynn as a Russian spy "caught" by Trump:
Now the Enquirer's "dragnet" has expanded -- but only to people outside the Trump White House, with Trump still the innocent party in all this:
The Trump-friendly Enquirer has shifted away from denial of the scandal to throwing his whole campaign under the bus. pic.twitter.com/IJ2f18yj6J— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) April 24, 2017
I know the Enquirer is just a tale-spinning tabloid friendly to Trump -- but I suspect that this will be the fallback message if a real investigation closes in on Trump: that he's an innocent man who regrettably fell in with some bad characters.
That's how most scandals end in this country, of course. The CEO never goes to jail. The underlings plead guilty as the politician they serve remains unindicted (hello, Governor Christie). I think it's possible that there'll be convictions in Russiagate. But I'm betting that none of the people convicted or forced out of office will be named Trump -- or Kushner.