In yet another tweet storm, President Donald Trump claimed again Wednesday that the investigation into his campaign’s possible ties with Russian meddling in the 2016 election is the greatest witch hunt in political history.
It most certainly is not, as shown by a growing pile of evidence, including the bombshell reports this week about Donald Trump Jr. eagerly meeting a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Just ask Trump’s own nominee for FBI director, who testified under oath Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe isn’t a witch hunt and that Russia interfered in our democracy. Christopher Wray pledged “strict independence” and declared that any effort to impede Mueller is unacceptable – no small matter since the president fired James Comey as FBI director over his handling of the Russia issue.
Trump can also listen to some fellow Republicans, who are increasingly concerned about the mushrooming scandal and how it is stalling their legislative agenda. They are demanding more answers from Team Trump and calling them to testify before Congress.
House Republicans, including those from California, have been noticeably quiet. What is it going to take for the likes of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Jeff Denham of Turlock and Tom McClintock of Elk Grove to speak out?
Yet unlike Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who at least are asking tough questions, House Republicans, including those from California, have been noticeably quiet. What is it going to take for the likes of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Jeff Denham of Turlock and Tom McClintock of Elk Grove to speak out?
One test is to quickly approve a bipartisan bill cementing the economic sanctions that the Obama administration imposed against Vladimir Putin’s regime over the 2016 hacking. The Senate passed the bill 98-2 last month, but it is bogged down in the House and is being resisted by the White House.
Instead of making it clear that the U.S. will not tolerate Russian meddling at his meeting with Putin in Germany last week, Trump hatched the harebrained idea of creating a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia, and only pulled back after bipartisan ridicule.
Investigators at the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Justice Department are looking into whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation, run by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, helped guide Russia’s fake news war on Democrat Clinton, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau reports.
If true, that gets awfully close to collusion.
So does the email string involving Donald Trump Jr., who in June 2016 received a message offering documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” and that were part of the Russian government’s support for his father.
At his confirmation hearing, Wray told senators that if they received such an offer from a foreign government or citizen, they’d best contact the FBI.
Trump Jr. didn’t do that. Instead, he replied he would “love it” and invited Kushner and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to the meeting.
The president is defending his son as “open, transparent and innocent.” If Trump truly cared about transparency, he would publicly direct his team to cooperate fully with the investigations and come forward with everything they know, instead of waiting until media reports force them to disclose dribs and drabs.
Before it’s too late to preserve their credibility and honor, California Republicans should call on Trump and his top aides to come clean on Russia.
With the special counsel, congressional committees and investigative reporters, the American people will eventually know the truth of what happened in the 2016 election. The real issue now is how far-reaching the legal and political fallout will become.