As congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election ramp up, so is the political division, raising questions about whether lawmakers’ work will be viewed as credible. The House this week scheduled its first public hearing, which some swiftly dismissed as political theater. Even as lawmakers began to review classified information at CIA’s headquarters, Democrats continued to call for an independent panel and special prosecutor. The dynamic underscored the escalating concerns about whether the Republican-led investigations will have the funding, focus and, perhaps most importantly, bipartisan buy-in to produce findings that are broadly accepted and definitive.
“To be honest, we don’t know yet,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, which is conducting a probe in the House. “I can’t say for certain whether that will be possible. I can only say it is very much in the national interest that we do so. Because we cannot allow this to become another Benghazi committee.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have their examples of misguided or failed investigations. For Democrats the cautionary tale is the years-long probe into the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Congress spent millions on the effort and the Benghazi committee held four public hearings. But Democrats consistently dismissed it as a political witch hunt aimed at Hillary Clinton.