Following Flynn Resignation, Velazquez Renews Call for Special Counsel
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez today wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for a Special Counsel to investigate Russian interference in the United States 2016 election. Velázquez had previously called for such a Counsel in December. In her letter, she notes she is renewing this request in light of news surrounding the resignation of National Security Advisory Flynn.
“These issues go to the heart of our democracy and the American people deserve a full accounting of the facts,” Velázquez states in the letter. “It is important that any investigation avoid even the appearance of bias or political interference. Appointing a Special Counsel would help assure the American people that these matters are being investigated fully, thoroughly and by a nonpartisan entity that will ultimately make public all relevant facts.”
The full text of the letter is below and a .pdf is online here.
February 14, 2017
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
As you may be aware, in December, I wrote to your predecessor, Attorney General Lynch, asking her to appoint a Special Counsel tasked with examining Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential and congressional elections, the role cyberattacks played in the elections and any involvement or knowledge by American citizens. At that time, I made clear it was my expectation that such a Counsel would continue its work in to the new Administration.
Today, I am resubmitting this request to you. Recent events make clear the need for the Department to exercise this prerogative. The startling resignation of General Flynn from the position of National Security Advisor and revelations that he was less than forthcoming about his conversations with Russian officials have raised yet more disturbing questions about the Administration’s ties to Russia and that country’s interference in our democratic process.
We now have a situation where there may have been inappropriate contact between the National Security Advisor and the Russian Ambassador. It is unclear when other members of the Administration, including close advisors to the President and the White House General Counsel, were made aware of these discussions. It is being publicly reported that the President was aware of this turn of events weeks ago.
All of this is particularly disturbing given previously unanswered questions surrounding Russian intelligence agencies’ hacking of U.S. political organizations, ties between then-candidate Trump’s campaign staff and pro-Russian politicians in Europe and suggestions that the Russian government may have amassed damaging information on the President.
These issues go to the heart of our democracy and the American people deserve a full accounting of the facts.
It is important that any investigation avoid even the appearance of bias or political interference. While there are currently underway investigations by Congressional Intelligence Committees, there is no guarantee the information they unearth will be made public. Appointing a Special Counsel would help assure the American people that these matters are being investigated fully, thoroughly and by a nonpartisan entity that will ultimately make public all relevant facts.
The authority to appoint a Special Counsel exists precisely for situations like this. Under the law, a Special Counsel can be appointed when there are “extraordinary circumstances” and “it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.” The current state of affairs is extraordinarily troubling and, to say the least, incredibly politically sensitive.
For all these reasons, it is critical that you immediately appoint a Special Counsel to investigate these matters.
I look forward to your swift response.
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress