The ongoing investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 US election has had its ups and downs. However, two of the three panels that are deeply involved in this issue have been rocked with a lot of infighting. The House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are finding it difficult to continue the investigation due to partisan interests among members.
Reports are emerging that Democrats and Republicans sitting on both committees have failed to cooperate. In some cases, glaring acts of sabotage have also been reported. The latest reports indicate that Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent letters requesting crucial documents from witnesses to aid in the investigation.
However, the chairman of the committee, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has failed to sign off on the letters. But this sabotage goes both ways. Feinstein has also declined to sign off on 13 letters sent by Senator Grassley where he requested more information on FBI agent Peter Strzok and one of the key informants in the Uranium One investigation.
Despite these crucial differences, Feinstein downplayed the events through her spokesperson. Feinstein said that it’s not a big deal if a committee chairman fails to sign off on any witness letters or a ranking member doing the same. But there seems to be an emerging pattern in all this. Partisan interests are taking center stage.
Feinstein has made it clear that she will continue with the investigation despite these setbacks. The Democratic Senator is pursuing an obstruction of justice line of inquiry. She will also look into the issue of collusion between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Even with this resolve, Feinstein will have to deal with increasing tension within the committee. The Democratic Senator told reporters that she felt there was a subtle effort by Chuck Grassley to sway the investigation from going deeper into Trump’s inner circle. In addition to this, Republicans on the committee have also chosen to take a back seat in the probe. Instead, they have left the more aggressive work to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s investigation has been progressing smoothly though. The former FBI director has already indicted Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Rick Gates. All these are high profile aides who worked with Trump during and after the elections. The Senate Judiciary Committee also said through a spokesman that its job is to conduct government oversight and not criminal investigations.
The House Intelligence Committee has also followed this partisan approach in investigating links between Trump and Russia. Reports are actually indicating that divisions have been so severe that the committee will release two separate reports on the investigation.
Infighting within the House Intelligence Committee has been blamed on chairman Devin Nunes. Democrats have taken issue with the conduct of the Republican Rep. during this investigation saying that he has gone to great lengths to sabotage cooperation between the House Committee and the Intelligence Community. These emerging differences are serious and they could significantly affect the Russia investigation.