Guest Editorial: Time for independent inquiry of President Trump

Posted: March 24th, 2017 | Guest Editorial, Opinion & News | No Comments

By Rep. Susan A. Davis

The scandal of a potential Russian grip on the Trump White House is growing. There has already been a resignation of a high-level White House official. Many questions remained unanswered. To get those answers we need a full, independent bipartisan investigation.

It’s clear the Russian government, under orders from President Vladimir Putin, engaged in a cyber hacking of the Democratic Party to help Trump win the White House. We also know that people — at least six — associated with the Trump campaign were in contact with senior Russian officials despite repeated denials by the president and his aides.

One person in contact with the Russians was former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the contacts and was forced to resign.

The resignation of Flynn underscored the increasing and disturbing potential of Russia’s grip on the White House. It’s another instance of someone in the administration, the other being the president himself, who could potentially be subject to blackmail by the Russian government.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

A computer server within the Trump Organization had a number of communications with Alfa Bank — a Russian bank with ties to Putin. These communications remained unexplained.

Then there is the famous — or infamous — dossier alleging that Russia has in its possession compromising videos of Trump. The notion that the president of the United States could be blackmailed is a chilling thought and an even more compelling reason for a full investigation.

The dossier further alleged that there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

My Democratic colleagues and I have been pursuing the facts behind the Russia/Trump connection.

Rep. Susan A. Davis

The Protecting Our Democracy Act, of which I am an original cosponsor, would create a National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election. This would be an independent and bipartisan commission, similar to the 9/11 Commission that looked into the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The American people have the right to know the facts surrounding these cyber-attacks. The integrity of our election process is paramount.

The scope of the commission’s investigation needs to be expanded to look at the connections between the president and Russia beyond the election.

A key to such an investigation is access to the president’s taxes and financial documents.

Donald Trump Jr. was quoted in 2008 declaring that money is “pouring in from Russia.” This raises more eyebrows about the financial dealings between the president and Russia.

For decades, presidents have released their tax returns to the American people. The fact that President Trump has refused has raised serious questions. If there is nothing there, as he claims, then why not release the tax returns?

On the House floor, Democrats attempted to force the issue on Trump’s taxes. We brought a resolution to the floor that would compel the president to let the American people see his taxes. The resolution was defeated by a party-line vote.

We weren’t done. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York offered a resolution of inquiry. House Resolution 111 would direct the Attorney General to send to the House of Representatives any documents relating to Trump’s financial practices, or any criminal or counterintelligence investigations of the president.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were successful in killing the resolution. This will not be the end of it. House Democrats will continue to use all legislative tools at our disposal to press this issue to uncover the truth.

The potential of Russia’s grip on the White House and this president is a serious national security concern that needs to be investigated. We have a responsibility to follow all the threads to reveal what this means to our national security and our democracy.

A bipartisan and independent investigation into Russian influence in the White House and the election is the way to get those answers. The American people have a right to know what those in the White House knew, when did they know it, and how deep does it go.

—Rep. Susan A. Davis represents Congressional District 53, which includes including the San Diego communities of Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge and Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.

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