Outrageous: Senate Russia Committee Has no Full Time Staff, No Key Witnesses
This was supposed to be the good investigation-compared to the circus accident Devin Nunes turned the House Committee investigation into. Thankfully, Nunes is now recused, being investigated by the Ethics Committee as to whether he mishandled classified information. Sort of ironic when you remember the Comey presser.
That we now know happened based on internal Dem documents Comey was privy too thanks to Russian hackers. Wish I was kidding.
And while the Senate investigation hasn’t so blatantly embarrassed itself, it is evidently getting nowhere fast.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower.”
“But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured.”
“More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast.”
“The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. The probe currently appears to be moving at a pace slower than prior Senate Intelligence Committee investigations, such as the CIA torture inquiry, which took years to accomplish.”
“No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures.”
“It’s either a real investigation or not,” said one individual with knowledge of the committee’s activities. “You have to have an approved investigative guide. You have to make it formal. Can you have a credible investigation with only seven part-time staffers, doing everything in secret?”
This is just more proof of what is really needed:
1. A joint House-Senate Select Committee
2. An independent prosecutor
3. An independent commission.
The CIA torture report travelled at a snail’s pace-as the GOP was covering for W-and that was faster than this.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) April 24, 2017
So while the Senate Committee has better PR, it’s not going anywhere fast at the moment:
“This is despite the committee’s leadership giving off a bipartisan, cooperative impression to the public.”
“Thus far the Senate Intelligence Committee has been focused only on reviewing the Intelligence Community Assessment, “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” a declassified version of which was publicly released in January. The public assessment concluded that Russia had actively sought to interfere in the presidential race, and had a preference for Donald Trump, and does not draw conclusions about any possible Russia ties to Team Trump.”
“Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr told the public in an update of the committee’s work on March 29 that this topic was a core mission of the investigation: “to look at any campaign contacts from either [campaign] with the Russian government or Russian government officials that might have influenced, in any way, shape, or form, the election process,” he said.
“The committee has sent letters to various individuals and entities to ask them to preserve documents relevant to the investigation. Carter Page, Roger Stone, and federal agencies have reportedly been among the subjects of these requests. But there is no timeline on when the committee will request the documents they’ve asked subjects to preserve.”
“In one hint about the inadequacies of the investigation, Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Ron Wyden last month sent a letter to the Republican and Democrat heads of the panel, imploring them to look into financial relationships between Russia, President Trump, and his associates. The implication behind the letter? That the committee wasn’t already looking into it.”
Look beneath the nice words in public and partisan bickering rears its ugly head:
Senate Russia probe flounders amid partisan bickering: Burr won't sign letters requesting docs from Trump campaign https://t.co/5DM7rKZVRP
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) April 24, 2017
Damn. Burr appears to be losing the benefit of the doubt, I for one, had been giving him. https://t.co/DdP1vNMjAR
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 24, 2017
In fact the Senate Committee is also in danger of being stymied:
“More than three months after the Senate Intelligence Committee launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — including allegations of collusion by associates of President Trump — the panel has made little progress and is increasingly stymied by partisan divisions that are jeopardizing the future of the inquiry, according to multiple sources involved in the probe.”
“The wheels seem to be turning more slowly than the importance of the inquiry would indicate,” said Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the 9/11 commission and former Watergate prosecutor, one of a number of veteran Washington investigators who have begun to question the lack of movement in the probe.”
“As Congress returns from its spring recess this week and Trump approaches his 100th day in office, the panel has no further public hearings scheduled, even as the House Intelligence Committee — torn by its own partisan wrangling and internal turmoil — shows some flickering new signs of life. The result has caused growing frustration among the Senate committee’s Democrats, who are privately complaining the probe is underfunded, understaffed and too timid in pushing to get to the bottom of one of the most explosive political stories in years.”
“I would like to see this moving more quickly,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the panel, said in an interview with Yahoo News.
There is also concern among some Committee Dems that Warner is sacrificing too much to project a bipartisan public veneer.
“Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the ranking minority member on the panel, has repeatedly said the Russia investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.” And until now, Warner has sought to project an appearance of bipartisan unity with Burr, portraying the probe as a methodical inquiry that will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
“But Warner’s handling of the probe has led to grumbling among some of his Democratic colleagues that he has been too reluctant to challenge Burr and press for more aggressive action — for fear of undercutting the perception that he and the Republican chairman are working cooperatively together. “He’s been afraid to even bring up the S-word,” said one source familiar with the details of the investigation, referring to the panel’s authority to issue subpoenas for documents.”
“There are signs Warner’s patience is starting to wear thin. Warner “is not satisfied, with the pace of the investigation and he doesn’t think it’s moving fast enough,” a committee source tells Yahoo News. “He would like to have seen more hearings and more interviews with witnesses.”
The GOP should understand that if they won’t do the job, the people won’t let them keep their jobs.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.