Schiff and Warner Call for Independent Russia Investigation

Both Congressman Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Warner (D-VA) are now calling for an independent investigation of allegations of collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian intelligence officials.

Following a week where Congressman Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the highly unusual step of briefing President Trump on developments in his investigation. This was out of line with typical proceedings for two reasons:

  1. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether there was collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian intelligence officers. Nunes’ decision to brief (potentially) the subject of the investigation is not how typical investigations are conducted.
  2. Nunes chose to share the information with President Trump before sharing it with his Democratic counterpart, Congressman Schiff, which also breaks with protocol for the operation of the committee. Nunes has apparently apologized to his committee.

Equally troubling to those concerned about Russian involvement in the Trump campaign is Nunes’ decision to cancel an open hearing with former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan. The announcement to cancel the hearing was made in the midst of the frantic effort to corral votes fro the failed AHCA on Friday.

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Congressional committees that deal with both military and intelligence have operated in the past with very little partisan acrimony. Devin Nunes’ decision to brief President Trump without regard for this tradition casts doubt on his ability operate in a non-partisan way. As Schiff so succinctly explained, Chairman Nunes “will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both.”