Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Richard Blumenthal had strong words for the White House and Republican leadership about their obstruction of investigations into ties between the Trump team and Russia.
During a press conference Thursday, Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called out the White House and the Republican leadership in Congress for engaging in a cover-up with respect to their investigations into ties between the Trump team and Russia.
Cummings is the ranking Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, and Blumenthal is a member of both the Senate Judiciary and Armed Services Committees.
While the entirety of their remarks are worth watching, the confrontational portions are transcribed below.
CUMMINGS: Earlier this week, the White House refused, absolutely refused, to produce even an single document — not a single document — in response to the bipartisan document request that I sent with our Republican chairman. Not one syllable. I watched Sean Spicer make all kinds of excuses about how hard it would be to comply with our requests. C'mon, man.
Look, General Flynn served in his position for 24 days, so that excuse from the White House will not fly. I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it. After the president fired him. For lying. So the president fired him for lying about his communications with the Russian ambassador. They should be bending over backwards to help us. It does not make any sense. And it makes the American people feel like the White House has something to hide.
There's obviously a paper trail. There is a paper trail that the White House does not want our committee to follow. But let it be known that we will follow it. We will follow it with everything we've got. ...
BLUMENTHAL: All [documents released on Flynn] testify to a flagrant violation of federal criminal statutes that must be investigated and prosecuted. And it will not be investigated and prosecuted unless there is a special prosecutor.
For all the reasons that Representative Cummings outlined so powerfully about the White House seeking in effect to cover up for General Flynn, we can't count on the Attorney General or his deputy — who report to the president of the United States and the White House — to do that job. There needs to be a special prosecutor.
And, likewise, the conflicts of interest on the part of President Trump and others in the White House require a special prosecutor to investigate and pursue.
After the opening statements, Cummings took questions and went even further in his answers by taking to task both House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) for obstructing the investigation:
CUMMINGS: Spicer also said that they didn’t have documents. Remember that? C’mon. These guys are playing games. And when you see Mr. Spicer you can tell him I said that today. They’re playing games. ...
When Hillary Clinton - when they went after her? If they spent 1000th of the time going after Trump, President Trump, that they spent on Hillary Clinton? He’d be in big trouble…This is not about just Democrats and Republicans or Independents. The Republicans are not helping us. You gotta to understand that. They are not helping. And they could help. ...
I haven’t seen any help, have you? I haven’t seen any from the Republicans period…I don’t see Ryan helping us, do you?
The basic question that I’ve been struggling with and - as a lawyer - is something that baffles me is why in the world if the president fires someone [Michael Flynn] for lying, do you then seem to protect them? I don’t understand that. And I think that leaves a big question mark for all of us.
As congressional Democrats have noted, a pattern of inexcusable obstruction by Republican leadership and the Trump White House has emerged, raising even more questions about what they have to hide and exactly who is implicated in the possible collusion between Russia and the Trump team. A growing number of Democrats, and even some Republicans, are calling for an independent investigation into this matter.
At a minimum, the American people deserve an independent special prosecutor to remove this critical national security investigation from the hands of those who are clearly putting party over country.