Is the Senate actually going to start investigating Russia, or what?

Is the Senate Actually Going to Start Investigating Russia, or What?

Is the Senate Actually Going to Start Investigating Russia, or What?

The Slatest
Your News Companion
April 24 2017 6:36 PM

Is the Senate Actually Going to Start Investigating Russia, or What?

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Ranking Senate Select Intelligence Committee member Sen. Mark Warner and Chairman Sen. Richard Burr listen to testimony during a hearing on March 30 in Washington, D.C.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate’s investigation into Russian interference in November’s election seems to be going nowhere fast. From Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff:

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 committee has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents or interview any key witnesses who are central to the probe, the sources said. It also hasn’t requested potentially crucial evidence — such as the emails, memos and phone records of the Trump campaign — in part because the panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has so far failed to respond to requests from the panel’s Democrats to sign letters doing so, the sources said.
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Isikoff writes that the committee has been dragging its feet on just about every aspect of its investigation. Access to intelligence documents has been limited to a handful of aides; documents from key witnesses like Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Paul Manafort haven’t been requested; and interviews with those witnesses have yet to be scheduled, even though Page, Manafort, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone have volunteered for them.

“So what has the committee been doing for three months? The five staffers assigned to the case have been methodically reviewing the classified raw intelligence documents that formed the basis for the Jan. 6 assessment [of Russia’s interference in the election],” Isikoff writes, “and that, in turn, has lead to the discovery of more documents that are potentially relevant, sources say.”

The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak writes that those staffers don’t have any investigative experience. “Most of them lack a background in Russia expertise,” he wrote in a story published on Sunday. “Not one of the seven is a lawyer.” Those staffers moreover have other distracting obligations:

Of the seven, two are the staff directors of the committee—an enormously demanding job even in the calmest of circumstances, which limits their involvement. One of the seven even attends law school part-time.
“To do a serious investigation would require not less than a dozen full-time staffers … [with] counterintelligence, prosecutorial skills to do it, and people who have a very good sense of the forensic accounting world of Russia and Europe. Without that sort of expertise, you’re not going to get anywhere,” [attorney Scott] Horton said. “I don’t think they’re deploying the resources that are necessary to do a real investigation.”
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The House’s investigation, you might recall, has itself been a mess. Until our elected representatives get their acts together, it’ll be up to the media to continue getting to the bottom of things. Super sleuth Louise Mensch, of course, remains on the case: