Amid the growing wave of sexual allegations against members of Congress and the entertainment industry, the impending vote on the reportedly disastrous GOP tax bill, and the unsure future of net neutrality, it is easy to forget that there are still multiple investigations into Russia’s meddling in Election 2016 and possible collusion with the Trump administration. However, according to a new report by the New York Times, we almost closed one investigation at the insistence of President Trump himself.
In what is being called a “highly unusual intervention” by Trump, the president reportedly urged several high-profile Republicans to end the Senate’s inquiry into Russian meddling according to the Times:
Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the intelligence committee chairman, said in an interview this week that Mr. Trump told him that he was eager to see an investigation that has overshadowed much of the first year of his presidency come to an end.
“It was something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,’” Mr. Burr said. He said he replied to Mr. Trump that “when we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish.”
In addition, according to lawmakers and aides, Mr. Trump told Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri and a member of the intelligence committee, to end the investigation swiftly.
Burr says he did not feel “pressured” by the president’s request, chalking it up to Trump having “never been in government.” Blunt echoed Burr with a similar tale, claiming he didn’t feel the president had “sinister motives” when he was asked “to wrap up this investigation” during a trip on Air Force One with Trump. Both have limited their contact with Trump to avoid a “perception of coziness” according to the Times. This is not the same for other members of the Senate:
Mr. Trump also called other lawmakers over the summer with requests that they push Mr. Burr to finish the inquiry, according to a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss his contact with the president.
This senator, who was alarmed upon hearing word of the president’s pleas, said Mr. Trump’s request to the other senators was clear: They should urge Mr. Burr to bring the Russia investigation to a close. The senator declined to reveal which colleagues Mr. Trump had contacted with the request.
The former chairwoman of the intelligence committee Senator Dianne Feinstein called Trump’s requests “inappropriate” according to the New York Times and that they breached the separation of powers. The report also mirrors Trump’s own public admissions about the Russia investigation.
(Via New York Times)