Va. congressman calls for investigation into Russian influence in US

WASHINGTON – Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., says there is a crisis in Washington, and he is frustrated his colleagues on Capitol Hill aren’t doing more to get answers.

As the congressman from Northern Virginia sees it, the question of Russian influence on our politics and our government “is one of the gravest crises to face the United States since Watergate in terms of its ability, it’s potential to destabilize our system of government and the confidence, public confidence, in the new president and his team.”

He wants Congress to put together a bipartisan commission, perhaps even bicameral, to look into the Russian issue.

But Connolly’s party is in the minority, and investigations can only begin with the OK of a committee chairman. Connolly is disappointed that his Republican House colleagues don’t seem to want to get more answers — but he’s buoyed by the fact that a few Republican Senators are calling for at least some level of hearings and investigations.

Washington Post Senior Political Reporter Aaron Blake told WTOP there are at least three investigations that had new life breathed into them by the events of the past few days: 1) the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, of which Connolly is a member, asked the White House to answer questions about the “open air” situation room at Mar-a-Lago last weekend; 2) the independent Office of Government Ethics recommended that the White House discipline Counselor Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line; and 3) the Michael Flynn resignation as National Security Advisor.

Blake says the fact that this is getting to a point where even Republicans in Congress have to talk about moving investigations forward shows the immense pressure that the White House’s conduct is putting upon even his own party to “at least look into these things which, on their surface, look to be warranting investigations.”

Connolly calls the Conway/Ivanka Trump flap a distraction, and though he’s glad that Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is worried about the ethical conflict involving the clothing line promotion, he says Russia is the real issue, and he believes Michael Flynn was just the tip of the iceberg.

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