Congressional committees can no longer conduct credible investigations without poisoning them with partisan politics, Rep. Tom Rooney said.
“We’ve gone completely off the rails, and now we’re just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” the Florida Republican said in an interview Monday with CNN. “We’ve lost all credibility, and we’re going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately. ... In that regard, that’s why I called for the investigation to end.”
House Intelligence Committee Republicans announced Monday they are closing their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Republican members of the House committees investigating Russian attacks on American democratic institutions have increasingly deployed lines similar to Rooney’s in recent weeks.
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In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week, Reps. Trey Gowdy and Robert W. Goodlatte asked them to appoint a special counsel to investigate “potential bias” within the FBI in 2016 and 2017 as the bureau obtained surveillance warrants related to its own investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Gowdy chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“We leak like the Gossip Girls,” Gowdy told CBS News last week. “We don’t have the ability to impanel a grand jury, we don’t have the ability to offer immunity, we should not be offering immunity,” he said. Elements of the executive branch are “more publicly confidence-inspiring than current congressional investigations.”
Key House Democrats maintain their GOP counterparts have done everything they can to deflect attention away from the contents of the investigations and discredit them out of deference to President Donald Trump.
“While the Majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been under great pressure to end the investigation, it is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.”
Instead of using its subpoena powers to fully unearth the truth surrounding the source of the investigation, Russia’s interference in the elections, the Intelligence Committee sought to undermine its own investigation, Schiff said.
“It proved unwilling to subpoena documents like phone records, text messages, bank records and other key records so that we might determine the truth about the most significant attack on our democratic institutions in history. Instead, it began a series of counter-investigations, designed to attack the credibility of the FBI, the Departments of Justice and State, and investigate anyone and anything other than what they were charged to do — investigate Russia’s interference in our election and the role the Trump campaign played,” Schiff said.
Rooney hopes Democrats and Republicans can emerge from the fracas to issue recommendations on how to protect U.S. elections going forward, especially with the first primaries of the 2018 cycle already in the books.
“If we don’t get any of these recommendations out before this cycle gets fully underway, then we really have just completely wasted a year of everybody’s time,” Rooney said.