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First House Republican signs bill creating committee to investigate Russia, election

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has become the first House Republican to co-sponsor a bill calling for an independent investigation of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Republicans have generally opposed setting up a special committee to look into Russia's hacking Democratic organizations and individuals, which President Trump has repeatedly minimized. At his press conference on Thursday, he called it a "ruse."

But Jones has a long history of bucking his leadership, so his support for the Democratic bill does not come as a surprise.

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"Congressman Jones is brave enough to do the right thing," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who introduced the bill with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said in a statement.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act would create an 18-month, 12-member independent investigation into the role of Russia and any other foreign entity in the election.

The intelligence community last year determined that Russia leaked documents from the Democratic National Committee and other political targets in an attempt to hinder Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE, delegitimize American democracy or both.  

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure MORE (R-Ariz.) has offered support for setting up a select committee to look into Russia's involvement in the election. 

Jones signs on as the White House faces a storm of allegations relating to Russia. National security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign earlier in the week after misleading Vice President Pence about the contents of conversations he had with Russia's U.S. ambassador before Trump took office. A subsequent New York Times article claimed multiple Trump campaign aides had contact with Russia throughout the election season.

Jones, who served in the North Carolina House as a Democrat before switching parties, has a long career of taking positions against his party. Though he voted for the war in Iraq, he later became a critic. He also took a stand against rule changes that shielded former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) from ethics charges.