Republicans Start the Cover-up

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The House Intelligence Committee held its first hearing today on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election and the Republican members wasted no time attempting to muddy the waters to provide cover for Trump and his campaign.

Trump and the committee’s Republicans seemed most exercised by leaks to the media. Information shared with the press has resulted in a series of stories over the last month and a half about contacts Trump administration officials or close associates had with Russian officials.

Source: Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Karoum Demirjian, Devlin Barrett

Congressmen Mike Turner (OH) and Chris Stewart (UT) started by taking a page from Trump’s authoritarian playbook and trying to discredit the media. Both congressmen called into question the reliability of leaks used by the media. They pressed FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers on whether they would vigorously pursue leakers. Simultaneously, Trump took to Twitter to pile-on.

Trey Gowdy (SC) also took aim at the media, questioning the use of anonymous sources and urging the FBi to pursue leakers. Gowdy invoked God as he attempted to persuade Comey to look harder at leaks than the underlying scandal.

Next Turner and Stewart tried to undermine the FBI by asking Comey whether simply meeting or being photographed with a foreign agent or official would be sufficient to open an investigation without acknowledging the obvious that a wide range of circumstances would be involved. Rick Crawford (AR) also followed this line of questioning. It was an obvious attempt to provide cover for Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and others members of the Trump campaign.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik asked Comey whether the Russians hacked other entities during the election, forcing him to say they also targeted the RNC. This was an obvious attempt to draw a false equivalency. The Russian’s weaponized the data they stole from the Democrats, not the RNC.

By wasting time during a hearing so important to the foundation of our democracy by diverting attention from the key question – did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians – the Republican members of the committee became willing partners in the cover-up.

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