Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a frontrunner candidate in the election for DNC chair, criticized Donald Trump and disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn over alleged ties to Russia in an interview with Jezebel, saying, “You might as well put Putin in the cabinet because they already gave him a seat at the table.”
Flynn resigned on Monday night after only 24 days in office amid reports that he misled White House officials regarding conversations he had with Russian officials in December, before Trump was inaugurated and he became White House staff. He submitted his resignation after the Washington Post reported that former acting attorney general Sally Yates (who was fired by Trump after refusing to enforce the Muslim ban) had warned officials that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia last month. Flynn’s conversations with Russia are especially troubling considering U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia waged a cyberattack against the DNC and Hillary Clinton in an effort to help elect Trump during the election.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said that he “inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.”
A small choir of Republicans are calling for an investigation on Flynn’s ties with Russia. However, House Oversight Committee chair, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who aggressively pursued investigations into Clinton’s emails, has so far ignored requests from Democrats to investigate Flynn’s ties to Russia. House Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes, too, is refusing to investigate Flynn, instead questioning why the FBI recorded Flynn’s call. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded,” he told the Washington Post.
“If Hillary Clinton had won this election and it turned out that Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, and others had provided help and her national security advisor had been on the phone with the Russians, there’d be hell to pay,” Perez said on a call with Jezebel on Tuesday. “There wouldn’t be 15 hearings from Republicans, there’d be 30.” Perez said that the “the appalling silence” of Republican leadership “is unconscionable.”
“This is a huge threat that the Russians pose,” he continued. “You might as well put Putin in the cabinet because they already gave him a seat at the table.”
Perez demanded an independent investigation of criminal wrongdoing regarding the cyberattacks and the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia. Calling Flynn and controversial Attorney General Jeff Sessions “comrades in action for Team Trump and Team Putin,” Perez said, “Jeff Sessions can’t do it, he was out on the campaign trail.”
“I sure hope that there is an independent prosecutor that is assigned to this, because it’s a big deal and there’s no one on the Hill in the Republican ranks that has the gut to take a look at it. Jeff Sessions is a fox in a hen house, and Donald Trump is compromised because he was actively supporting the effort,” Perez continued. “We’ve got a major fox in a hen house problem. I mean, there are foxes all over the place.”