Republican responsible for investigating Michael Flynn wants to investigate leaks instead

Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks during a town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Hundreds of people lined up early for a town hall with Chaffetz on Thursday evening, many holding signs criticizing the con
Source: Rick Bowmer/AP
Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks during a town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Hundreds of people lined up early for a town hall with Chaffetz on Thursday evening, many holding signs criticizing the con
Source: Rick Bowmer/AP

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday night he was ready to recommend an investigation of recently resigned national security adviser Michael Flynn's pre-inaugural phone call with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

More specifically, an investigation not of President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, but to find out who blew the whistle on Flynn and punish them.

In an interview with Fox News, Chaffetz told host Martha MacCallum "no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you cannot have classified information migrating out into a non-classified setting."

"You have a duty and an obligation, because by its very nature, if that classified information gets out there, it can harm somebody," Chaffetz added. "It can kill somebody."

National security adviser Michael Flynn arrives in the east Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, for a news conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. .
Source: Evan Vucci/AP

In a Wednesday night letter from Chaffetz and House Committee on the Judiciary chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the two representatives told Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz they had "serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information" and requested he "begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled here."

Earlier in the day, Chaffetz had suggested the broader issue of Flynn's call was "taking care of itself."

In other words, rather than probe whether Flynn's conversation about sanctions with Kislyak was connected to other leaks indicating Trump's campaign was in repeated contact with Russian spies, Chaffetz wants to find whoever told Washington Post reporter David Ignatius about the call.

As the Intercept noted, whoever leaked the call likely did commit a felony — and may have been one of Flynn's enemies rather than a benevolent party. Regardless, its release to the public has added yet more pressure around concerns there is something untoward connecting Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the hacks of Democratic Party targets during the presidential election.

So far, Chaffetz' unwillingness to investigate those concerns has mirrored the approach of most of his fellow Republicans. But that unwillingness does not come without political consequences. At a recent town hall meeting in Salt Lake City, Chaffetz was greeted with a horde of angry constituents demanding he investigate the president's ties to Russia and his numerous other conflicts of interest.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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