We must get to the bottom of Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election
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If anyone needed any example that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abdicated their responsibility to conduct a fulsome, bipartisan inquiry of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election—and inquiries into any efforts by associates of the Trump campaign to aid and abet in that endeavor—Friday was telling. Last week, the House Intelligence Committee’s GOP members issued a final report on the 2016 election, the results of which bordered on the absurd.

It found no fault in the Trump-GOP Convention’s decision to weaken its plank so as to be more favorable to Ukrainians sympathetic to the Kremlin; it downplays the role George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTen post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Rand Paul blocks resolution calling for release of Mueller report GOP shifts focus to investigating Obama officials MORE—an individual who has pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation—and the role of Carter Page, a man who is widely reported to be the subject of a warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; and, perhaps most troubling, it takes exception with the intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that the goal of the Russian government was to undermine the campaign of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcAuliffe says he won't run for president in 2020 Chuck Todd slams reports that DOJ briefed Trump on Mueller findings: 'This is actual collusion' Crowdfund campaign to aid historically black churches hit by fires raises over M MORE and assist Trump.  Further, this report was issued with acknowledgements that the House Intelligence Committee completely failed—either because it was unwilling or unable—to interview key players in this crime. All told, the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee found “no evidence of collusion, and so we found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings.” This is laughable.

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Most telling about this report is that it dismisses as mere ‘poor judgment’ a very critical meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower, attended by the president’s son, son-in-law and his former campaign manager, with associates of the Russian government. Present at that meeting were an array of Russians, including a lawyer revealed on Friday morning to be an informant for the Russian government.  To date, the president’s son has been mendacious in his efforts to dismiss this meeting as nothing more than one about adoptions. It appears that, at seemingly every turn, Trump and his associates are proven to have concealed troubling connections to many Russians. Members of the Trump family have been caught communicating with disfavored international actors, like Wikileaks, to undermine the internal political processes of our democracy. 

The revelation about the true identity of the Russian lawyer at the infamous Trump Tower meeting is more evidence that belies the report’s conclusion that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government.  It coincides with Trump’s increasingly unhinged proclamations on social media, that this investigation is a witch hunt—let’s not forget: Trump knows what he did or did not do. This is why it is critical to pass H.R. 5476, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. If enacted, H.R. 5476 would permit the Special Counsel to challenge any termination of his investigation or office in federal court, during which the investigation would be stayed.  This bicameral and bipartisan piece of legislation has already been favorably reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I urge the Speaker of the House to permit consideration and a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on this critical piece of legislation. Every day which passes is another in which we learn more about contacts and connections between Trump and his associates, with elements of the Russian government. Polls show that seven out of 10 Americans want to ensure that the Special Counsel is permitted to complete his investigation. 

As we learn more, it is becoming clear that the 2016 election was a crime scene. The 2018 election may be one too. We need answers to questions about how foreign adversaries compromised our democracy. Until a full picture emerges of what transpired, who was responsible, and whether they were aided by Americans, we must not relent in our efforts.

Jackson represents the 18th District of Texas and is a member of the Judiciary Committee and Homeland Security Committee.