FILE – In this March 7, 2017 file with photos, the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. As a congressional research in Russian interference in the 2016 election, ramping up, so is the political department, raising questions about whether legislators work will be seen as credible. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
WASHINGTON – As the congress on research in Russian interference in the 2016 election, ramping up, so is the political department, raising questions about whether legislators work will be seen as credible.
The House this week scheduled its first public hearing, which some dismissed as political theater. Even as lawmakers began to review classified information on the CIA headquarters of the Democrats continued to call for an independent panel and special prosecutor.
The dynamic underscores the increasing concerns about whether the Republican-led investigations will have on the funding, focus and, perhaps most importantly, bipartisan buy-in to produce findings that are generally accepted and definitive.
“To be honest, we don’t know yet,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, which is conducting a probe in the House. “I can’t say with certainty whether that will be possible. I can only say that it is very much in the national interest that we do that. Because we can not allow this to be another Benghazi committee.”
Republicans and Democrats have their examples of incorrect or faulty research. For Democrats, the cautionary tale is the years-long probe into the 2012 attack on the AMERICAN diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The congress spent millions on the effort and the Benghazi commission has four public hearings. But Democrats consistently dismissed as a political witch hunt aimed at Hillary Clinton.
In the end, the commission has issued an 800-page report and there is no new evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton, but it did reveal that they have their own e-mail server for government, business, which has dogged her presidential campaign.
Other efforts — Watergate, Iran-Contra and the sensor in the Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis as examples are generally shown as risen above the party political battle.
“The only research that the credibility of those who truly bipartisan,” said former Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, who ran a lot of parliamentary inquiries during his years in the Senate.
“The leaders of the research — the chairman and the ranking of the member must trust each other. That is No. 1,” Levin said of the run of a dual investigation.
On the House and Senate intelligence committees, that confidence was shaken when the White House was the Republican chairs to help push back on reports about Trump campaign officials’ contacts with Russia, one of the elements of the legislatures are tasked with the investigation. Both Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Rep. Devin Nunes of California said that they do not do anything incorrect.
Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, stated that he had seen no evidence of improper contacts between Trump associates and the Russians, the investigation was just underway.
Successful congress for research must be funded. The senate has approved $1.2 million for the intelligence committee for the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the budget details for anonymity to discuss the figures, which are not typically published. The House intelligence committee has asked for additional funds, as well, but that has yet to be approved.
By comparison, the Benghazi investigation ultimately cost the committee more than $7 million.
The second key to a successful investigation, Levin said, is that the committee staff members — a mix of Republicans and Democrats — work together seamlessly.
Levin said the staff needs to operate openly. They have to review documents together. They have to prepare witness lists together, interview people together and doing a joint memo’s for the legislators together.
“They have to work together,” Levin said.
And that work is delivered with a number of serious homework, said Dan Berkovitz, a former Senate investigator. There must be a thorough knowledge of the facts of the investigation, he said, that asks for the necessary documents and the interviewing of all the people with the relevant knowledge. And good investigations take time, ” he said. The announcement of the start of an investigation and scheduling a hearing about it weeks later “raises eyebrows.”
The House intelligence committee announced that it would be his first hearing on the case on March 20. The FBI and the National Security Agency directors are invited, as well as former top Obama administration officials. The House intelligence hearing is scheduled on the day of the Senate has its high-profile hearing for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neal Gorsuch.
Nunes said that he wants that most of these hearings are held in public.
That has already proven difficult as the senior intelligence officials have not been able to answer a few questions about the Russian probe into the public, because of the highly classified data and the risk of disclosure of the secret ways of the USA. the information has been obtained.
“Open testimony creates a lot of distractions and other considerations and not to facilitate candor,” Berkovitz said.
Often a good research, he said, is going to do behind the scenes and without much fanfare, and then the presentation of the findings in public.
Nunes’ spokesman, Jack Longer, do not think that that is true.
“I don’t think we can rightly criticized for trying to be transparent, and the holding of a public hearing for a study that has a huge amount of attention from the public,” he said, adding that the hearing is in addition to the research work behind the scenes.
The nature of what is being investigated here, however, makes it unlikely that the fanfare will disappear.
Trump recently claimed that the parliamentary investigations to broaden the scope of their research to be former President Barack Obama’s potential abuse of powers of the executive power to tap Trump’s phones, a claim He made earlier this month without any proof that it happened.
The Senate intelligence committee has said most of her research will be done behind closed doors. Democrats in the commission have said they want to make public as much of the findings as possible.
The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, has said: this research is perhaps the most important thing he ever does.
“There is nothing that I have done in my life in public, that is just as important as trying to get this research done, that law and politics and get the facts out to the American people,” Warner said.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.