National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has resigned over his questionable conduct with Russian officials during the transition period. Case closed, right?
Congressional Democrats and others on the left are pushing for more formal investigations into the Trump administration's possible illegal or unethical connections to Moscow during and after the 2016 election. Many of them are envisioning the discovery of some proof that President Donald Trump is indeed under the undue influence of the Vladimir Putin regime and that it will constitute an impeachable offense. This is the current anti-Trump dream scenario.
There's only one problem with it: None of the above can happen unless at least some key Republicans go along. That pesky GOP majority in both houses of Congress along with control of all the key committee chairmanships could easily block any attempt to take this Flynn/Russia probe any further. But let's look at those key Republicans to see who, if any, are likely to crack and for what reasons.
So far, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devon Nunes isn't cracking. Nunes could launch a serious probe with some of the best tools at his disposal compared to his GOP colleagues in committees with less security clearance. But CNN reported early Tuesday that Nunes still has no intention of pursuing the Flynn matter any further, and Monday night he expressed public support for the Trump administration's efforts to track down the source of the leaks about Flynn and other White House matters.
In addition, Nunes represent's California's 22nd congressional district which is about as solidly Republican as it can get in the Golden State. Trump won that district by 10 percentage points and no Democrat has won a majority of the votes there in any major election in more than 16 years.
The next Republican to look at closely is House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz from Utah. At first blush, Chaffetz seems like he could be a very good candidate to cave to anti-Trump pressure. He was never a strong Trump supporter during the election, and only begrudging admitted he was going to vote for him in late October.
Now, every Democrat on his committee just signed a letter to Chaffetz demanding he open an investigation into Flynn. And finally, that letter came on the heels of a raucous town hall meeting back in Chaffetz's home district last week when several attendees shouted at the Congressman to "do his job" and scrutinize President Trump's many alleged conflict of interest issues.
Could Chaffetz cave under that kind of pressure, especially when some of it presumably comes from his deep red Republican district? Don't bet on it. First off, as loud as some of those town hall meeting attendees were, we have no idea whether they were just coming from a few Democrats in Chaffetz's district, or if they were even residents of his district.
And remember when all the experts told us then-candidate Trump was in big trouble in Utah in November? It turned out he won the state by an extremely comfortable 18 percentage points, and a conservative revolt effort led by Utah "favorite son" candidate Evan McMullin fell horribly flat.
Chaffetz himself insists that protesters at his town hall were paid "astroturf" activists hoping to look like they were locals. Based on the November election results, where Chaffetz won re-election by 47 percentage points and President Trump won by 24 percentage points, he may have a point. Either way, the chances Chaffetz will be the first one to break with his party and scrutinize the Trump White House also seem remote.