It’s the story that Trump has been trying to avoid since he started his campaign. The one that Senate Republicans promised to investigate, then hoped that everyone will forget.
Don’t need a select committee, don’t need to add staffers or increase the budget … oh, yeah, Republicans are all over this one.
But there are a few people in the Senate who are still trying to bring attention to the little fact that a foreign power interred in our election with the express intent of making Donald Trump president.
Now that the intelligence committees are supposedly on the case—and with the FBI not discussing whatever inquiries it may be holding on this front—the controversy (or scandal!) has been nudged to the back burner. This often happens in Washington: a secret investigation is launched, the story goes dark.
Helping cast those shadows is a press that seems to have instant amnesia about anything Russia related, to the extent that Russian forces attacking towns in Ukraine just one day after Trump and Putin had their contents unknown chat, wasn’t enough to push aside Trump’s latest tweets on television ratings. The connections between Putin and Trump, Manafort, Flynn, Page, and others in the regime seldom merits a mention.
Enter Wyden. For the public, at this point, there is no way to tell if the intelligence committee is doing a good job investigating these dicey issues. Republicans on the committee certainly have an interest in not embarrassing, inconveniencing, or delegitimizing Trump. So it's up to Wyden and the other Democrats on the committee to monitor the probe and inform the citizenry if it ends up being a whitewash.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden holds a key role. Even if Republicans try to bury the investigation at this point, Wyden has to both keep the task alive in the Senate, and keep the FBI and intelligence community from quietly shredding evidence now that Trump is in charge.
Wyden has already indicated that there is information on Trump-Russia ties within the US government that ought to be declassified, that he will push to keep the committee's inquiry on track, and that he will press to make as much of its findings as public as possible.
As Harry Reed did in the fall, Wyden has pressed hard on FBI Director Comey, trying to get the FBI to share in public some of the information that a number of senators have been given behind the scenes. But the FBI continues to sit on the information.
Now Wyden is in a position where he has exactly one threat to keep Republicans on the committee honest as they go through their investigation—going public with what he knows.
“There is a big gap between what the public had a right to know and what came out. And that continues to be true to this day."
The Senate intelligence committee has pre-determined how much time it intends to spend investigating the whole scope of Russian influence on the election including, reluctantly, any ties to Trump—just three months. That’s a far cry from the time dedicated to such far-reaching issues as private email servers.
"I am going to push as hard as I can to get the maximum transparency as quickly as possible," Wyden remarked. "There is a question about whether the administration will cooperate." That's why, he noted, the committee will have to be prepared to use subpoenas.