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Recent demands for investigation into Russia’s involvement in the last presidential election and its possible connections with the Trump campaign have become vigorous and bipartisan, most calling for a commission like the one created to investigate the 9/11 attacks.
However, according to Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare, this type of structure will not succeed. Why? First, it requires legislation to be passed that would almost certainly be vetoed by the President. It would further require the executive branch to cooperate in the gathering of information necessary to such an investigation, and there, again, such cooperation seems highly unlikely.
What is a select committee?
According to the website for the US Senate, a select or special committee is “A committee established by the Senate for a limited time period to perform a particular study or investigation.”
Who will chair the select committee?
Because the Republicans have the majority of the seats in the Senate, the Chairperson of any select committee must be a Republican. There will usually be a minority Ranking Member, (in this case Democrat), as well. Every committee adheres to this structure.
Hennessey and Wittes propose that LIndsey Graham chair the committee. Graham already chairs The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which has jurisdiction over many aspects of the Justice Department, including the FBI, and where, according to Politico, Graham and subcommittee members have launched their own investigation into all things Russia.. Of his Chair, Ranking Member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “He’s a very, very talented colleague and a very good lawyer and prosecutor. He knows how legal proceedings work and is very adept.”
The scope of the investigation into possible ties of President Trump and his associates to Russia and Russian interference in the U.S. election both exceeds the jurisdiction of any one committee and implicates the jurisdictions of multiple committees.Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, 2/28/17
The following article, sharing parts of an interview of Senator John McCain by MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren, includes a video in which the Senator states the need for a select committee multiple times within the first four minutes of a ten minute interview
Mindy Finn and Evan McMullin ran for Vice President and President respectively. They currently run a nonprofit organization called Stand Up Republic. The article includes their new television ad that encourages people to contact Congress and demand a bipartisan Select Committee
Florida Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo told The Hill on March 29th that he supports a bipartisan select committee, which he states would “give greater credibility and independence to the investigation.”
Another option, apart from a 9/11 style commission, (the problems with which are outlined above), is for the Attorney General (or in this case the Deputy Attorney General, as Sessions has had to recuse himself of involvement with any Russia investigations), to assign a Special Counsel, also known as a Special Prosecutor. This person will operate under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department and, therefore, of the executive branch.