Even Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Republican who chairs the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, is starting to investigate the scandals surrounding President Trump.
On Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that President Trump may have interfered with the FBI’s probe into his own presidential campaign, according to detailed memos from ex-FBI chief James Comey. Last night, Chaffetz issued a letter to the FBI asking for any notes or recordings that Comey may have kept of his conversations with the president:
As chair of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has broad powers to launch inquiries into government — and presidential — misdeeds. But he has been criticized on the left for fixating on Hillary Clinton’s emails while ignoring calls to investigate the president — particularly the conflicts of interest that Trump may have in his business dealings with foreign countries like Russia.
At one of his town halls in February, the crowd repeatedly shouted at Chaffetz, “Do your job! Do your job!”
According to the Times story, which has now been confirmed by several other outlets, Comey’s memos allege that the president once asked him to halt his investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and campaign staffer who is suspected to have close ties with Russia.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said, according to Comey. (The White House denies Comey’s account.) The Times revealed that Comey took notes on every conversation he had with the president. Those are the documents that Chaffetz now seeks, potentially for an investigation into Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.
Chaffetz, who entered the House in 2009 and rose to one of its most powerful perches, announced last month that he would not seek reelection in 2018. After Trump took office, Chaffetz has been put in an awkward position, pressured by the president to investigate pet issues like voter fraud, and pressured by the Democrats to investigate the president. Some speculate that Chaffetz plans to run for governor in Utah, a state where many voters were unsettled by Trump and cast their ballots for third-party candidate Evan McMullin.
Since announcing his decision to quit the House, Chaffetz has been slightly bolder in probing presidential controversies. Last week after Trump fired Comey, for instance, Chaffetz asked the Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances of Comey’s dismissal.
.@GOPoversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 16, 2017
On Tuesday night, Chaffetz was quick to respond to the latest allegations from the Times, telling NBC that it "seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI."