The Russia scandal enveloping the White House is tailor-made for McMullin, a former CIA officer who has warned about the rising threat of an aggressive and expansionist Russia and sounded the alarm on Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns (which may reveal connections to Russia). In the New York Times, McMullin warns that “America’s security is now at stake“:
For Republican leaders in Congress, there is no more room for cognitive dissonance. Instead, it is urgent that they recommit to patriotic prudence. They should demand that Attorney General Jeff Sessions appoint an independent special counsel to investigate Russia’s assault on American democracy and Mr. Trump’s possible collusion with the Kremlin.
At a minimum, they must establish a bipartisan special select committee with subpoena power in the House or the Senate for the same purpose. This job is too big and significant to be entrusted to the standing intelligence committees, which have critical tasks and limited staff. The nation must have accountability — including public hearings where possible — on these matters.
Senate Republicans are not quite there — yet. They have, however, committed to a robust investigation under the auspices of the Intelligence Committee and are “plowing ahead,” Democrats are quoted as saying in a Newsweek report:
The committee’s investigation, launched in January, is focused on three fronts, according to [Democratic Sen. Mark] Warner. The first two are Russia’s misinformation campaign to sway the election in favor of Trump and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and a top aide to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. “And then third, the question—the scope has even expanded—of any contacts between members of either campaign and Russian officials before the election,” Warner said. “And obviously part of this in terms of what’s happened with General Flynn, now, extends into contacts that took place after the election.”
For the explanation for this bipartisan, serious approach, one need only look to the majority leader. Speaking on “Morning Joe” earlier in the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) observed, “I don’t think we need to go through setting up a special committee but we are going to look at Russian involvement in the U.S. election. It’s a significant issue.” If the majority leader thinks this is a serious issue, you can imagine his members will act accordingly.
Meanwhile in the House, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is obsessed — with a former aide to Hillary Clinton. No, really. No Russia probe, conflicts inquiry, emoluments investigation of Trump. But a Clinton aide? This gives political hypocrisy a bad name. One conscientious Republican does exist in the House. The Post reports, “A House bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate allegations of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election has garnered its first Republican supporter. Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) co-sponsored the Protecting Our Democracy Act on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Jones confirmed Friday. He joins every member of the House Democratic Caucus in co-sponsoring the bill, which would set up a 12-member panel evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.” Maybe he should be chairman of the House Oversight Committee since he, you know, believes in oversight.
So, McMullin should find comfort in the conduct of Senate Republicans and a rare House Republican or two who take their oaths of office seriously, it seems. In the House, the rule is party above country. The voters should remember that in 2018.