The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican majority showed off its best ostrich impression late Monday, as members buried their heads in the sand concerning Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in it.
The abrupt but expected ending came even as investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee appear a long way from completion – and in Mueller’s case are producing results in the form of indictments and convictions.
The House panel “lost the trust of the American people many months ago,” observed Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “This was in large part due to Chairman Devin Nunes’ dereliction of duty, aided and abetted by many of his colleagues on the committee who are more interested in covering for President Trump than investigating what happened.
“As we await the full report from the committee – which we will read with skeptical interest – we renew our call for an independent commission with the authority to investigate what happened and to make recommendations for how to protect against future attacks” Hobert Flynn added.
It’s been clear for months that the House inquiry was geared to give the Trump campaign a clean bill of health. Committee Chair Nunes, R-CA, seemed to put partisanship ahead of the country’s interest in secure elections, pushing his colleagues to redirect their inquiry to pursue his theory that the Obama administration used the nation’s intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump transition.
Nunes announced he would recuse himself, tapping Rep. Michael Conway, R-TX, to lead the committee’s inquiry, but then remained actively involved. A majority staff memo prepared at his direction alleged that the FBI misled a court to secure a warrant allowing it to eavesdrop on the phone conversations of a former Trump aide; Trump said the memo exonerated his campaign, but even some of Nunes’ fellow Republicans acknowledged that they found it unpersuasive.
Under Conaway, the committee declined to subpoena key witnesses, including former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort, now under indictment by Mueller’s grand jury, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller.
The House committee also shrugged off open defiance of its authority by – among others – former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks. Both voluntarily appeared for interviews, but the committee let them pick and choose which questions they would answer.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections