- As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and five other Ranking Members at a press conference to discuss the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.  A transcript of his remarks follows:

“Thank you Madam Leader, and thank you fellow ranking members. Good afternoon.

“The National Security Council is at the top of our foreign policy decision-making apparatus. If the Council is dysfunctional, if its leadership is compromised, it puts our national security at risk.  So it’s a good thing that General Flynn stepped down.

“But his departure raises more questions than it answers. What promises did General Flynn make to Putin’s ambassador and who else was involved?  How deep were the connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign prior to the election?  Why did the White House ignore the warnings of the Justice Department and allow someone subject to Putin’s blackmail to remain in a critical national-security role?

“This problem, therefore, is far from resolved.

“We need to pursue, punish, and protect. Pursue the answers about Russia’s interference in our election and Putin’s ongoing ties to this Administration—a thorough investigation by a nonpartisan commission.  Punish those responsible for trying to undermine our democracy from overseas.  And protect future elections from this sort of unlawful interference.

“Legislation introduced by Ranking Member Cummings, the Protect Our Democracy Act, and my own bill, the SECURE Our Democracy Act, would put us on the right path.  These bills should be no-brainers, but we don’t hear much from our Republican friends.

“Unfortunately, House Republicans don’t seem to have any interest in dealing with this challenge.  It’s really hard to believe.  A foreign government tried to undermine our democracy and until last night, had compromising material on a very senior Administration official—that we know of.  Republicans don’t seem to care.

“What else does Putin have? And on whom?  Apparently, House Republicans aren’t interested in finding out.  Already today, their leadership has offered a collective shrug when asked if there should be an investigation.  That’s the definition of putting party before country.

“But we’re not going to back down.  We’re going to press this issue again and again until we get answers. Democrats are not going to remain silent. House Foreign Affairs Democrats are not going to remain silent. This isn’t about politics.  This is about grappling with a real threat to our security and our democracy.

“Thank you very much.

“I just want to reiterate: we have had our election, our democracy, potentially compromised by things that Russia has done. I mean that would be bad enough just in itself, but when you then add that there may very well be collusion between high-ranking officials in this Administration with the Russians, I mean that’s just a double whammy. That’s something that should scare all of us as Americans who really love our democracy and cherish it.

“This, to our knowledge has never happened before. And you know, my Republican colleagues—who I know many are wary of Russia and Putin, and what he stands for—it’s just unbelievable to me that they are not leading the charge to demand the bottom line, the truth, from this Administration in terms of Russia, in terms of hacking our election, in terms of trying to undermine the Democratic process.

“I cannot remember in my lifetime another crisis, that includes Watergate, that’s more serious than this one is right now.”