Common Cause, Public Citizen, and more than a dozen other grassroots and progressive organizations delivered petitions signed by more than 4 million Americans to Republican leaders and members of Congress this morning, calling for an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The event at the U.S. Capitol attracted several members of the House of Representatives and ethics advocates. Speakers including Reps. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX; Anna Eshoo, D-CA; John Sarbanes, D-MD; Eric Swalwell, D-CA; Jerrold Nadler, D-NY; and Will Fischer, a veteran’s advocate and founder of votevets.org, made a strong case for creation of an independent commission and the release of President Trump’s tax returns.
“We know… Russia carried out a multifaceted campaign to help Trump, the candidate they preferred,” Swalwell said. “Russia intends to do this again… They will prevail if we continue for the status quo.”
Other lawmakers argued that an independent commission to investigate Russia’s meddling in the election is needed despite the existence of a separate, criminal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI.
“An independent counsel looks for crimes,” Nadler said, rather than for potential ethics violations. A commission would be able to better uncover the facts, since the purview of its investigation would be all connections between the Russians and the administration, he suggested.
Americans already are aware of the influences the Russians had on the election, “what we want to know is why,” Fischer said. To understand any potential ethics violations or conflicts of interests involving the President and members of his administration, Americans need more than just information regarding criminal wrongdoing.
After the press conference, volunteers hand-delivered the petitions to nearby congressional offices. Scott Zimmerman, one of the volunteers, said staffers “seemed receptive” to the delivery.
The dozens of volunteers and the variety of organizations they represented reflected the broad concern Americans have regarding Russian interference in our elections. We must continue to push for the truth, no matter how difficult it becomes, because free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. As Doggett observed, “it’s your dedication and commitment that keeps this movement going.”
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections