Even as six U.S. intelligence agencies are reportedly investigating links between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has announced that it will also investigate Russian collusion, among other things.
Concern is mounting that newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump could interfere with, or escape accountability from, investigations into the Russian cyberattacks that influenced his electoral victory.
But in an encouraging sign, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) issued a joint statement promising a full investigation, no matter where the facts lead. Crucially, that investigation will include, among other things, allegations of collusion:
For many years, one of the House Intelligence Committee’s highest priorities has been to oversee the Intelligence Community’s activities to counter Russian aggression, including the cyber-attacks directed against the United States in the last year.
As part of this oversight responsibility, the Committee has been undertaking a bipartisan inquiry of these activities and the underlying intelligence used to draft the Intelligence Community Assessment, "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections".
While the Committee has already begun to receive important documents, we trust that the incoming leadership of the Intelligence Community will fully and promptly support our requests for information related to the inquiry. It will not be adequate to review these documents, expected to be in the thousands of pages, at the agencies. They should be delivered to the House Intelligence Committee to provide members adequate time to examine their content.
The statement goes on to note that the scope of the Committee’s inquiry includes: Russian cyber activity and other "active measures" against the United States and other countries; counterintelligence, including any possible links between Russia and "individuals associated with political campaigns" during the election; the response, and the impact thereof, from the U.S. to Russia's actions; and any potential leaks of "classified information related to the Intelligence Community’s assessments of these matters."
The statement concludes by stating: "This issue is not about party, but about country. The Committee will continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead."
Democrats on the committee are limited by their minority status, but the inclusion of the collusion allegations (even with the use of the overly-ambiguous "campaigns") indicates that if nothing else, the committee could bring to light some of the evidence being gathered by that six-agency task force. Despite its partisan makeup, the House Intel Committee did manage to produce a report on Benghazi which debunked popular myths about those attacks.
While not a substitute for the truly independent investigation for which Democrats continue to press, this is a promising and necessary step toward a full and complete reckoning with the events of the 2016 election.