Editorials

Congress must get to the bottom of Russia’s role in 2016 campaign

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, has called for a full investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The CIA believes Russian operatives worked to tip the presidency to Donald Trump.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, has called for a full investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The CIA believes Russian operatives worked to tip the presidency to Donald Trump. Associated Press file

Rep. Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is a measured politician not prone to hyper-partisanship.

So it’s noteworthy that the former federal prosecutor is calling for a full investigation by members of the Senate and House of Representatives into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“This investigation would serve the purpose of informing the public, developing a concerted response, deterring the Russians from further malignant cyber action and inoculating the public against such manipulation in the future,” Schiff said.

Trump has not hidden his admiration for Vladimir Putin. But as reported during the weekend, the CIA believes Russia tried to tip the election in Trump’s direction. For the sake of democracy, Congress must investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 election. Voters need to know how Russians tried to influence them.

It’s one thing to deride Marco Rubio’s stature, Carly Fiorina’s face, or Hillary Clinton’s forthrightness. It’s quite another to weaken the Central Intelligence Agency, a bulwark of this nation’s defense, for political advantage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while acknowledging that “Russia is not our friend,” said there’s no need for a bicameral approach. That’s unfortunate. A two-house committee would convey the grave implications of the inquiry.

But to their credit, two leading Senate Republicans, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are preparing to carry out their duty by insisting on a full investigation. “This cannot become a partisan issue,” McCain and Graham said in a statement signed by incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. “The stakes are too high for our country.”

Many presidents, most notably Ronald Reagan, have sought to undermine Moscow. Perhaps Putin was exacting payback. Just this August, the Russian government declared that the International Republican Institute, chaired by McCain, is an “undesirable organization.” The institute, along with a similar Democratic organization, seeks to empower democratic movements around the world.

“This ‘undesirable’ designation by Russia is just another example of Vladimir Putin’s repression of the rights of the Russian people,” McCain told Politico.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller dismissed the claim as “an attempt to de-legitimize President-elect Trump’s win.” Trump reacted by attacking the CIA. The tactic is familiar. He tries to cripple all who challenge him.

But it’s one thing to deride Marco Rubio’s stature, Carly Fiorina’s face or Hillary Clinton’s forthrightness. It’s quite another to weaken the Central Intelligence Agency, a bulwark of this nation’s defense, for political advantage. If Trump persists, the biggest winner would be Putin. That surely cannot be Trump’s goal. Can it?

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