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The Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has backtracked, announcing he will, in fact, investigate President-elect Trump’s ties to Russia.
Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively, just announced a comprehensive investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. The investigation comes on the heels of Sen. Burr saying that he wouldn’t be investigating the President-elect. However, public pressure and mounting evidence appear to have reversed Burr’s previous decision.
“As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States,” Burr and Warner said in a joint statement.
The investigation’s announcement comes just a few hours after it was discovered that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.) called the Russian ambassador to the United States on the same day that President Obama announced a new round of sanctions against Russia and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats. If the call indeed did take place, it would be a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits communication between U.S. officials and agents of any foreign government involved in a dispute with the United States:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
“This issue impacts the foundations of our democratic system,” Sen. Warner said. “This requires a full, deep, and bipartisan examination.”
Warner didn’t rule out the possibility that the President-elect’s alleged ties to the Kremlin could also be probed by other Senate committees in the future. The investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee will be conducted in a combination of public hearings and closed-door meetings, to prevent classified information from becoming public. The committee will eventually release its findings to the public upon the conclusion of its investigation.
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.
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