Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. walk to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, to announce new climate legislation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Bernie Sanders was once blamed for what is now a clear intrusion into the Democratic Party’s servers and ultimately American democracy. Now Sanders is calling for a deeper investigation into the recently ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and deeper connections between Russia and the Trump organization.
Flynn resigned amid much controversy when news broke that he had lied about discussing lifting sanctions with a Russian ambassador during the transition period. However thanks to the numerous other allegations of Russian connections to the Trump campaign, Flynn was not able to resign and quash the controversy quietly. In fact resigning may very well have had the opposite of the intended effect and is driving a controversial media cycle focused solely on Russia.
In the meantime politicians in Washington struggle to find traction for a meaningful investigation, but that has not stopped people from trying. In particular John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been outspoken proponents of a larger investigation and on the other side of the aisle most are in support, but Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley have become outspoken advocates for a deeper dive into the Trump-Russia connection.
As two of the most progressive members of the Senate, Sanders and Merkley are in a unique position to hold their Republican colleagues to task and ensure an investigation is carried out.
Almost immediately after the news broke that is exactly what happened. Bernie Sanders took to social media, tapping into the massive audience he built during his run through the Democratic Primary. Jeff Merkley quickly followed suit and so ensued the calls for deeper investigation.
Jeff Merkley and a number of senate colleagues began a campaign for an independent special counsel into Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russian ambassador Kislyak. The letter begins by declaring the “credible allegations that the Trump campaign, transition team, and Administration have colluded with the Russian government, including most recently the events leading to the resignation of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, General Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak, and possibly other foreign envoys, may be violations of criminal law and ethical standards.”
The letter goes on to ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any potential investigation. Detailing exactly why those drafting the letter believe Jeff Sessions would be unfit to lead any investigation given his enthusiastic support for Donald Trump from a very early stage of the campaign.
The letter was signed by a number of Democratic senators including Jeff Merkley and Tammy Duckworth. It’s unclear what, if anything, will come of the pressure Democratic senators are placing on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, and their fellow Republican senators. That said, any pressure is a good thing and with some of the most progressive members of congress pushing for an investigation the grassroots clearly desire.