With questions swirling over President Trump campaign aides' alleged contact with Russia, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway's shameless plug for first daughter Ivanka Trump's products from the White House press briefing room, and the president's potential conflicts of interest, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is zeroing in on the issue that really matters: a tweet from Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park. Back in December, the national park's official Twitter account welcomed the new Bears Ears National Monument to the National Park Service Family:
Welcome to the family Bears Ears (& Gold Butte) NM! A hopeful slot in our front desk maps has long been held for you pic.twitter.com/r1vCLO7Uts
— Bryce Canyon NP (@BryceCanyonNPS) December 29, 2016
The tweet's mention of a "hopeful" empty map slot that has "long been held" for Bears Ears caught Chaffetz's attention. He quickly sent a letter to the superintendent at Bryce Canyon asking if they'd gotten advance notice from the Obama administration about the monument designation, which he has called a "slap in the face to the people of Utah." "The White House is telling the governor as well as the congressional offices that no decisions had been made — that it was still an open question — so how is it [Bryce Canyon National Park officials] were already ready to go with that information?" Chaffetz said Tuesday. "The timing is serious."
Bryce Canyon interim superintendent Sue Fritzke denied the park received advanced notice, and said the welcome tweet was just that. "When we have another piece of land in the park service that is close by, we will reach out and welcome them to the federal family, and let them know we are here and interested in connecting," Fritzke said. The tweet was sent one day after former President Barack Obama designated the land.
Chaffetz has claimed the Bears Ears investigation is at the "very bottom of the list" of investigations, but he has apparently decided the question it's raised won't be "taking care of itself" — unlike questions raised by former national security adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russia's U.S. ambassador during Trump's transition. Becca Stanek