FEATURED:

Juan Williams: GOP has sold its soul on Russia

Juan Williams: GOP has sold its soul on Russia
© Getty Images

Sam Nunberg, the former Trump campaign aide, made news last week when he dared special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE to arrest him for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Nunberg later changed his position. The prospect of jail can focus the mind.

But how about former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiTrump and son signal support for McCarthy as next Speaker The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Facing major hurricane, Trump is tested Bannon seeks to boost Republican turnout in midterms with new film MORE refusing to answer key questions from the House Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign?

ADVERTISEMENT

How about Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump heads to battleground Iowa, where GOP House members seek help Hope Hicks to become Fox chief communications officer The Hill's Morning Report — Where the Kavanaugh nomination stands MORE, the president’s outgoing communications director, also refusing to respond to questions from the House committee?

She shut down questions about anything that happened since President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE’s inauguration, including her role in creating a misleading memo. It was written in response to questions from New York Times reporters who asked about Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. The president’s son had been led to believe the meeting would deliver negative information on Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event MORE.

Hicks did admit to telling “white lies” for the president before resigning the next day.

And what about Stephen Bannon, the president’s former political strategist? He said Trump’s legal team told him to not answer anything from the House panel except questions pre-approved by the White House.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDepartment of Justice right to go after Hezbollah Sessions defends media following disappearance of Saudi journalist Trump goes on 12-tweet Twitter tirade MORE played a similar card last June when he told the Senate he could not answer questions because the president might assert “executive privilege” in the future.

But the president has not done so. And the law says no one — especially the nation’s top law enforcement official — is free to selectively ignore Congress’s constitutional authority to exercise checks and balances on the executive branch.

In an editorial, The Washington Post called out the House GOP for its rank hypocrisy in how it behaves now by comparison to its conduct during the Obama administration.

“Republicans held Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt when they were pursuing their trumped-up investigation of the ‘Fast and Furious’ gunrunning scheme,” the Post editorialized. “Zealously defending the dignity of the legislative branch mattered to them when a Democrat was in the White House. And now?”

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Schiff: There is legal precedent for impeaching sitting officials over prior criminal conduct MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for Lewandowski and Hicks to be subpoenaed. But the GOP majority clearly has no interest in using their powers to get answers from the Trump team.

But let’s not kid ourselves.

The House Intelligence Committee probe has never been a serious investigation. It long ago broke down into a partisan sideshow orchestrated by its chairman, Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesJuan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Latest on Hurricane Michael | Trump, Kanye West to have lunch at White House | GOP divided over potential 2020 high court vacancy Senate Dem: Trump's 'fake, hyperbolic rantings' an insult to real Medal of Honor recipients MORE (R-Calif.).

Just last week, a group of House Republicans called for a second special counsel to investigate the FISA court approval of surveillance of Carter Page, a one-time Trump campaign adviser. Note that they have no evidence of any wrongdoing by the court. Note that they have no proof of wrongdoing by the FBI in making its application to four judges.

But the request is in keeping with Nunes’s priorities.

Previously, he kicked up dirt about former President Obama in an attempt to support Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped his campaign.

Nunes also created a distraction by casting aspersions on legitimate requests by Obama’s national security officials to "unmask" the names of Trump officials talking with the Russians.

In every case, Nunes has tried to discredit any law enforcement agency that might reveal what happened between the Trump campaign and the Russians. His efforts have been primarily focused on undercutting special counsel Mueller’s investigation.

The New York Times reported recently that Nunes broke dangerous new ground by leaking confidential text messages from Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Is there difference between good and bad online election targeting? Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (D-Va.) about the investigation.

Warner and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel The National Trails System is celebrating 50 years today — but what about the next 50 years? MORE (R-N.C.) the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even went to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE’s (R-Wis.) office to complain. They got nothing for expressing their outrage.

This is unprecedented contempt by House leadership for Congress’s role in protecting the nation from the threat of a lawless president.

Can you recall an instance in congressional probes into Watergate, Iran-Contra or President Clinton’s conduct where a member of Congress leaked confidential communication with another member of Congress?

It is sad that Nunes has prostituted his committee’s bipartisan commitment to national security — all to protect Trump.

It will take a generation — if not more — before the intelligence community regains trust in sharing information with the House Intelligence Committee. After Nunes’s dispiriting performance, they have every reason to fear their sources and methods will be compromised and their integrity impugned if it serves a future chairman’s partisan agenda.

These sad developments come as public concern about Russian interference persists.

A Suffolk University/USA Today poll last month found that 69 percent of Americans believe the Russians made “a serious effort to meddle in the 2016 election.” Seventy-six percent believe the Russians will continue to meddle in our elections. Sixty percent think Trump is not doing enough to respond to the Russian meddling.

A majority — 57 percent of Americans — say they have “little or no trust” in Trump’s denial that there was any collusion between his campaign and the Russians.

And yet, Congressional Republicans are sanguine even as Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, reports that Trump has not ordered him to stop the Russians from interfering in U.S. elections.

When is Congress going to listen to the American people — their constituents — and begin to assert itself as a co-equal branch of government? When will its members see the ongoing threat to America’s national security as bigger than Trump?  

This utter breakdown of democratic government is not sustainable for much longer.

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.