Chaffetz to investigate Mar-a-Lago but not Flynn's ties with Russia yet

The House oversight chairman says he won't immediately launch inquiry of Flynn.

February 14, 2017, 4:12 PM

— -- House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Jason Chaffetz says he will not immediately investigate former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s interactions with Russia, but may consider launching an inquiry in the future.

“[Flynn] can’t mislead people, and that seems to have resolved itself with the White House taking some decisive action,” Chaffetz, R-Utah, told ABC News today in the Capitol. “But I’m not going to close off any doors to any possibilities of what we may or may not do.”

For now, Chaffetz says he will focus his attention on other controversies surrounding the Trump administration, such as the president’s lease of the Old Post Office from a federal agency; Kellyanne Conway’s comments promoting Ivanka Trump’s business interests; and whether the president held sensitive discussions of a North Korean missile test in public.

“I am sending a letter to Reince Priebus about what happened at Mar-a-Lago,” Chaffetz said, referring to the president's chief of staff. “I do want to understand, 'Was there classified information in a nonsecure setting?'”

The letter sent by Chaffetz Tuesday demands an explanation of whether proper security protocols were followed when the president, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and their aides discussed North Korea's missile test in the dining room of the Mar-a-Lago club on Saturday night. Chaffetz's letter asks the White House to identify documents reviewed at the dinner table and whether any were sensitive or classified.

Some guests at the club posted photographs on social media showing documents on the president's table.

The White House has pushed back on suggestions that national security matters were discussed during the public dinner, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying Monday that those at the table were only "reviewing the logistics for the press conference" about the matter. Spicer said the president was briefed on details of the missile launch in a secure location ahead of the dinner and then again after the dinner and prior to the press conference.

As to the resignation of Michael Flynn on Tuesday, Chaffetz called it “the right decision.”

“I do believe that if you mislead somebody, which it looks like he probably did, then there are consequences to that, and he’s no longer there in the White House,” he said. “At this point I am holding out all my options. I want to see what else the White House has to say about this but that’s where we’re at.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called for an investigation by an independent panel such as the 9/11 Commission.

“No senators, no members of Congress, but a group of distinguished citizens, well-informed, who have the best interests of the country in mind, to look at this whole episode with Russia and come up with recommendations. But first of all, come up with findings as to how it happened and try to make sure it doesn't happen again,” said Cummings of Maryland. “This is so much bigger than Trump. This is so much bigger than this moment. We're talking about the future of our democracy.”

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