No one seems interested in getting to the truth any more, or even making believe they are.
Any pretext that Congress, either the House or the Senate, can conduct a non-partisan investigation died this week when former acting Attorney General Sally Yates appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee looking into the extent of Russian hacking in the U.S. election.
The demise wasn’t sudden, or unexpected, like a fatal heart attack. Rather, it was like pulling the plug on a long-suffering patient who had been going downhill for quite some time.
Congressional committees have always been an opportunity for the party in power to cast doubt on their opposition. In past generations, however, eventually the participants would have to succumb to the evidence that was revealed, and everyone could then move on to the next big scandal.
That isn’t the case any more.
When Republicans took control of the U.S. House under President Barack Obama, they made it their mission to tar former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a constant barrage of investigations. Since her probable run for the presidency was well-known early on, the more they could pile up before then the better their chances would be of beating her.
Clinton’s own foibles helped their cause, especially her casual use of emails. But it was the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi that the GOP latched on to as their primary battleground. Over the course of several years – and at a cost of about $7 million to taxpayers – there were no fewer than seven investigations into Clinton’s role and handling of that crisis. And while each investigation revealed no evidence of wrongdoing, that didn’t stop the GOP from continuing to dig for whatever dirt they might be able to find.
At one point in October 2015, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy even admitted, in a slip of the tongue, that the so-called investigations were politically motivated.
The dire state of unpartisan congressional investigations was there for all to see, but it took Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and testimony from Yates about how National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was being untruthful to put the final nails in the coffin.
Yates told the Senate Judicial Committee on Monday that she had warned the White House counsel that Flynn was likely compromised, yet President Donald Trump did not fire him for more than two weeks, until word leaked out about the situation.
Yates said the Obama administration also warned Trump about Flynn in November, but reportedly Trump thought it was all so much sour grapes from Democrats upset that they had lost the election.
Republicans on the Senate committee showed their true colors Monday when they focused their questions not on the issues related to Flynn being compromised, Russian interference in the election or what those things might mean to our national security. No, instead their focus was on trying to smear Yates and on trying to figure out who leaked the Flynn information.
Whoever did leak the information deserves a medal because, had it not become public, Flynn likely would still be National Security Advisor, and still compromised by the Russians. Why Republicans in Congress are more concerned about how they look and less concerned about our security being compromised is anyone’s guess, but after years and years of saying they needed to spend millions upon millions in multiple Benghazi investigations involving the opposing party – because they said it was essential that we learn from the past – now they have absolutely no such compunction to get to the root of the Russian election scandal when it involves their party.
We saw the House committee looking into the Russian scandal dissolve under the weight of GOP partisanship, and the questioning from senators on Monday in their hearing demonstrates that astute body is no better than their counterparts. Not only are they not trying to put on a credible, non-partisan effort, they also seemingly don’t care that their partisanship is so blatantly obvious.
Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey – the man heading up the investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia -- on Tuesday, and the predictable yawning, no news here reaction from most Republicans further demonstrates how totally their integrity has been compromised.
Congratulations are due to the GOP. They put the illusion of non-partisan committee investigations on life support with their many Benghazi probes, and they finally killed it off with their look-the-other-way and deflect responsibility attitude in handling the Russian hacking.
With the patient dead, now we can all just concentrate on pointing fingers and blaming each other.
Jim Lee is Editor for Gatehouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.