COLUMN: Oversight Committee must hold Trump accountable — not overlook
Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, U.S. House Oversight Committee chairman, made a name for himself by vigorously investigating scandals.
He charged headfirst into the investigations of the Flint Water Crisis, Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi and her private email server misconduct. His position is one of the most important in Washington D.C. and he has done a great job — until now.
Chaffetz now refuses to investigate President Donald Trump's potential conflicts of interest, the alleged contact between his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and the Russians and Kellyanne Conway’s shameless endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
These issues need to be addressed.
Chaffetz's blatant partisanship is damaging to American democracy and the reputation of his position. It seems Sen. Rand Paul was correct when he said it is no use for Republicans to investigate their fellow Republicans.
What doesn’t make sense is why Chaffetz would just turn a blind eye to his party's wrongdoing even in the face of clear and obvious malfeasance.
The fact that President Trump has not divested from The Trump Organization makes corruption and abuse of power too possible. His hotel in Washington D.C. is a glaring example.
In early November, a foreign diplomat noted, “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House? I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’”
Furthermore, Trump leases the space for his Washington D.C. hotel from the General Services Administration. The lease bans public officials from benefitting from the lease in any way. Trump is the most prominent public official in the country.
Chairman Chaffetz’s job is to investigate this and make sure these conflicts of interest are settled. In doing so, he is supposed to ensure American citizens are protected from corruption and the president is not benefitting monetarily from his position. He's failing at that job.
The investigations into Clinton’s handling of Benghazi and her private email servers were some of the most thorough in history, producing numerous reports from the Oversight Committee. Where is that same zeal now?
The Washington Post and other outlets have reported there was contact between members of Trump's campaign team and the Russian government. It has come to light that Flynn lied about discussing the U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian Ambassador. These discussions reportedly took place before Trump took office, which is potentially an illegal act.
Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador were intercepted and proved the two discussed the sanctions. On top of that, Flynn also lied in an interview with FBI agents about the discussion in January — a felony offense.
Yet, the House Oversight Committee has remained silent. It has neglected to pursue any investigation into Flynn or other Trump officials about contact with the Russian government.
No one should look at these conflicts of interest and brush them off — especially not Chaffetz.
He said in the past that Clinton was not above the law. Now he must prove his own party is not above the law either.