A slew of GOP officials, including Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), broke with President Trump in openly challenging his firing of FBI director James Comey. They wondered about the timing of the decision, implicitly questioning the bizarre justification that Comey was only now fired for overreach in the Hillary Clinton email investigation last July. Whether that translates into a unified call for a special prosecutor and/or select committee remains to be seen. But meanwhile, the walls are closing in on Trump.
In a written statement, former independent conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin decried Comey’s firing. “The timing of this announcement the day after the testimony of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and two days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee is telling,” said McMullin. “From Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns to the ongoing revelations of ties between his campaign and Russia, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe that Trump doesn’t have something major to hide.” Along with his former running mate Mindy Finn, McMullin urged Americans to call their representatives to demand the creation of a bipartisan select committee to handle the Russia inquest.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that a grand jury is issuing subpoenas for documents from Michael Flynn’s associates. Does this suggest that a criminal investigation that may lead to an indictment is underway? A former Justice Department employee told me, “Absolutely.” Perhaps that is why both Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, are so afraid of criticizing “a good man,” as they refer to the ex-national security adviser who failed to disclose income from Russia and lied to the vice president about contacts with Russia.
Senate Russia investigators have sent a request to the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division for any information related to President Donald Trump, his top officials and his campaign aides, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee told CNN Tuesday.
“We’ve made a request, to FinCEN in the Treasury Department, to make sure, not just for example vis-a-vis the President, but just overall our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads,” Sen. Mark Warner told CNN. “You get materials that show if there have been, what level of financial ties between, I mean some of the stuff, some of the Trump-related officials, Trump campaign-related officials and other officials and where those dollars flow — not necessarily from Russia.” …
Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday asked regulators to investigate Carl Icahn, months after ethics experts warned the billionaire investor would likely face scrutiny over his role as a White House advisor.
That prediction appeared to come to pass as eight Democratic senators called on the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to probe whether Icahn engaged in insider trading, market manipulation or other violations. . . .
Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush and longtime critic of Trump, told CNBC in December that it would be a “huge conflict” if Icahn advised Trump on the ethanol mandate. In an email to CNBC after the hiring, Painter noted that the Trump transition team said Icahn “is not a government employee (they may be wrong on this if he acts like one) so it looks like they are saying the rules won’t apply to him.”
The eight senators echoed those comments on Tuesday in their letter to the three agencies.
In other words, if Senate Republicans now are going to take seriously their oversight role and, frankly, take the opportunity to distance themselves from a president mired in scandal, they should be pursuing not just an inquiry into Comey’s firing, but also investigations into possible emoluments clause violations and rampant conflicts of interest. If the Comey fiasco has taught them anything, it is that silence is consent, and consent is grounds for the voters to throw them out for enabling corruption.