Jason Chaffetz now says that he’s immediately taking leave from Congress due to a problem with his foot. Considering the controversial roller coaster of events surrounding Chaffetz over the past two weeks, this is not particularly plausible. Sure, he’s having the foot surgery. But it’s for a twelve year old injury (CNN), and he’s using it as a timely excuse to bail. It may be that he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being Russia and the hard place being the FBI.
Consider the sequence of events here. Twelve days ago, intelligence community sources began asserting that the FBI was looking into Jason Chaffetz being blackmailed by Russia (link). Then suddenly, five days ago, Chaffetz announced out of nowhere that he won’t be running for reelection, even though he’s just three months into his current term. He also said he’s seeking private sector jobs, and that he may not finish his current term. Then, immediately after his announcement, one of his own former staffers asserted that Chaffetz illegally took Russian money and that the FBI caught him (link).
Then yesterday, when Congress was back in session for the first time since any of the above events, Jason Chaffetz was suddenly using his chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee to go hard after Michael Flynn in a manner which made Donald Trump’s White House look like it’s trying to cover up the Russia scandal. And now today, after Chaffetz spent just one day actively investigating Trump-Russia, suddenly he’s taking a prolonged leave from Congress to address an old issue with his foot – even though he just got done saying that he had no health issues when he announced that he won’t seek reelection.
So let’s say Chaffetz has long been preventing his House Oversight Committee from doing any serious investigating into the Trump-Russia scandal, because Russia has been blackmailing him into not pursuing it. Further, let’s say that the FBI is now forcing Chaffetz to allow his committee’s investigation to properly move forward, by threatening to prosecute him if he keeps obstructing. And let’s say that Russia really didn’t like seeing Chaffetz on television cameras yesterday, going after Flynn and Trump, and the Kremlin threatened to release the blackmail material it’s holding on him if he keeps going.
The easiest way out for Chaffetz would be to suddenly yell “My foot hurts!” and leave Congress for a month. That way the FBI gets what it wants, as the House Oversight investigation into Trump-Russia will move forward in Chaffetz’s absence. And Russia can’t really blackmail him into blocking the investigation if he’s not even in Congress during the investigation. So now comes the essential question: is Jason Chaffetz in such a no-win situation that he’s having elective foot surgery just to
run limp away from his troubles? Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report