The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently released its Report on its purported investigation into Russian meddling in our nation’s 2016 election. The Report found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
That finding is breathtakingly premature and almost certainly wrong. It reveals that the Report, like the inquiry itself, is a sham.
At the outset of the Committee’s investigation, the Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff promised that the Committee would fully investigate all the evidence it would collect and to follow that evidence wherever it might lead. Schiff and the minority members of the Committee did their utmost to keep that promise. Nunes and his fellow Republicans broke that promise at every turn.
Thorough and credible investigations take time and a genuine desire on the part of investigators to uncover the truth. This investigation was a rushed job, focused on concealing and distorting the truth, all in an effort to give the president cover. It appeared a partisan charade from the outset. Now, Nunes and his GOP colleagues may be accessories after-the-fact to the Administration’s ever more apparent obstruction of justice.
In response to the Committee’s Report, the Democratic members of the Committee issued a Minority Report addressing with chilling specificity the Committee’s failures. It provides a litany of the ways in which the Majority actually obstructed the investigation by refusing to call in key witnesses, refusing to request pertinent documents, and refusing to compel and enforce witness cooperation and answers to key questions.
The Minority Report also called out the Majority’s conduct as undermining Congress’ independent investigative authority: “Their repeated deferrals to the White House allowed witnesses to refuse cooperation, and permitted the Administration to dictate the terms of their interaction with Congress, or evade congressional oversight altogether, setting a damaging precedent for future non-cooperation by this President and, possibly, by his successors.”
Immediately after the Committee released its Report, the president predictably renewed his calls for an end to the Special Counsel’s investigation, as if the House Republicans’ spurious findings should be the final word. But former CIA Director John Brennan rightly rebuked the president saying, “A highly partisan, incomplete and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing. The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators – not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump.”
Now that the Russian lawyer who attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Kushner, Manafort, and Don. Jr. has revealed herself to be a Kremlin informant, which is to say a Russian spy, the haste with which Nunes closed up shop is even more jarring.
It’s hard to see that which is in plain sight when one is wearing a partisan blindfold. It’s easy to miss the truth when you don’t really want to find it.
Long after this Administration is gone, the Committee’s response to an attack on our country will live on as a sorry reminder of the damage done when one branch of government surrenders its independence to another, when — as the Minority Report makes clear — Congress becomes the President’s complicit lapdog.