Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today spoke at the weekly Democratic address, calling for an independent investigation into former National Security Adviser Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Below are his remarks:
Look, I usually hold these stakeouts with a few of my colleagues, but I have a lot to say about what transpired last night.
General Flynn’s resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely a beginning. It is not the last chapter of this saga, but only the first. His resignation raises more questions than it answers and the American people deserve to know the truth.
In the days and weeks ahead, the Trump administration has many serious questions to answer. These questions must be asked by independent and unbiased law enforcement officers. They must be answered truthfully by administration officials. And any attempt to lie or mislead must be countered with the full force of the law. That must be true for every single employee of the Trump administration. From assistants sitting in cramped cubicles to the man occupying the Oval Office. I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in this call because the crisis here rises above party.
Was General Flynn directed or authorized to do what he did? What was the extent of his conversations and contact with Russia? Who else from the Trump administration, transition or campaign, had contact with the Russians? And why wasn’t General Flynn fired? As soon as the administration found out, why did they act only when they were caught misleading the media?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered. And these questions shouldn’t just apply to General Flynn, but to senior officials in the Trump campaign transition and administration. Every one of these questions should be applied to all of them, as well.
There needs to be an independent and transparent investigation, because the White House knew for weeks that General Flynn misled the Vice President and that his discussion about sanctions with the Russian government could potentially compromise our national security, because it was subject to blackmail. And yet, they let him stay on for weeks, present at and participating in the highest level of national security discussions until those reports were made public.
If an investigation is not independent, nonpartisan, and most of all transparent, there is no guarantee this administration will take the decisive and immediate actions necessary to keep our country safe. The White House Counsel cannot lead this investigation. And the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, cannot be the person to lead that investigation.
Department of Justice regulations specifically prohibit individuals who have political ties to the subjects of an investigation from leading that investigation. I want to read you the regulations from DOJ website. “No Department of Justice employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution or who would be directly affected by the outcome.”
The regulations continue. “Political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, candidate, political party or campaign organization arising from service as a principal advisor or official. Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality.”
Jeff Sessions was chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee alongside General Michael Flynn. He was a senior advisor in the Trump campaign, the first senator to endorse the President’s campaign, and nominated him at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
Those facts and the Department of Justice’s own rules disqualify Attorney General Sessions from running this investigation.
Because the rules are so clear, I expect Attorney General Sessions will recuse himself and make sure that an independent and thorough investigation proceeds. The American people deserve a full investigation. We need a transparent investigation, and we need an impartial investigation.
Department of Justice Regulations:
§ 45.2 Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.
(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:
(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or
(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.
(b) An employee assigned to or otherwise participating in a criminal investigation or prosecution who believes that his participation may be prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section shall report the matter and all attendant facts and circumstances to his supervisor at the level of section chief or the equivalent or higher. If the supervisor determines that a personal or political relationship exists between the employee and a person or organization described in paragraph (a) of this section, he shall relieve the employee from participation unless he determines further, in writing, after full consideration of all the facts and circumstances, that:
(1) The relationship will not have the effect of rendering the employee’s service less than fully impartial and professional; and
(2) The employee’s participation would not create an appearance of a conflict of interest likely to affect the public perception of the integrity of the investigation or prosecution.
(c) For the purposes of this section:
(1)Political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, a candidate (whether or not successful) for elective, public office, a political party, or a campaign organization, arising from service as a principal adviser thereto or a principal official thereof; and
(2)Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality. An employee is presumed to have a personal relationship with his father, mother, brother, sister, child and spouse. Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons or organizations are “personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.
(d) This section pertains to agency management and is not intended to create rights enforceable by private individuals or organizations.
[Order No. 993-83, 48 FR 2319, Jan. 19, 1983. Redesignated at 61 FR 59815, Nov. 25, 1996]
NBC News: Alabama’s Jeff Sessions Becomes First Senator to Endorse Trump. “Jeff Sessions of Alabama became the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Donald Trump on Sunday. Sessions, donning a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, told the crowd that he was throwing his support behind this ‘movement’ because, in his best estimation, ‘at this time in America’s history, we need to make America great again!’” [NBC News, 2/29/16]
CNN: Trump taps Sessions to lead national security efforts. “Donald Trump announced Thursday he has picked Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to help craft his national security policy. ‘Senator Sessions will serve as the Chairman of my National Security Advisory Committee,’ Trump wrote in a tweet, posted shortly before the Republican debate in Detroit.” [CNN, 3/3/16; Press Release, 3/3/16]
General Flynn served on the Trump Campaign National Security Advisory Council Alongside then-Sen. Sessions. [Trump Campaign Press Release, 10/7/16]
Sessions and Flynn also participated in a Trump Campaign Roundtable on Defeating Radical Islamic Terrorism Together. [Press Release, 8/17/16]