Don’t Be Fooled, Republicans Are Not Actually Serious About Investigating Russia

Congressional Republicans spent years investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails and launched a special committee to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attacks.

But when it comes to alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, the GOP appears to be taking a more restrained approach.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are rejecting growing calls for a wide-ranging special congressional panel to investigate the issue, instead pointing to the narrower oversight work already being performed by the House and Senate intelligence committees.

This approach offers no guarantee that final investigative reports will ever be released to the public — and potentially shields President-elect Donald Trump from a deeper congressional investigation looking into Russia’s motives.

On Monday, McConnell told reporters that the Senate Intelligence Committee “is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter.” It quickly became clear the Kentucky Republican was not necessarily ordering any kind of formal review aimed at producing a final report — like the one that resulted in the committee’s 2014 investigation of the Benghazi attacks — but was simply calling on the committee to continue its ongoing probe on the issue.

“The committee’s ongoing oversight captures exactly what the leader described,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in a follow-up email.

Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr issued a statement suggesting his panel isn’t launching any kind of new wide-ranging probe, but was just planning to continue the oversight work it is already doing.

“The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been, and remains, concerned about Russia’s actions,” the North Carolina Republican said in a statement. “The committee will continue to conduct vigorous oversight over activities and agencies within our jurisdiction in an appropriate and responsible way.”

Over in the House, Monday’’s statements followed a similar pattern. McConnell’s early remarks made a big splash, but as the day developed it became clear Republican leaders were not pushing to expand their existing probes of alleged Russian interference — and were instead simply endorsing their ongoing oversight work.

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