Society

Majority Wants Independent Probe Of Trump-Russia Ties

| by Robert Fowler

New polling indicates the majority of Americans are concerned about President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia and would support an independent commission to investigate his campaign's alleged ties with the foreign government.

On Mar. 24, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 63 percent of national adults were either very concerned or somewhat concerned by Trump's relationship with Russia. Meanwhile, 35 percent were either not so concerned or not concerned at all.

Sixty-six percent of respondents supported establishing an independent commission to probe the potential ties between several Trump campaign advisers and the Russian government, while 29 percent opposed. Meanwhile, 52 percent of respondents said they would trust the findings of a congressional investigation into the matter, while 41 percent said they would not.

The survey also found that 46 percent of respondents believe the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia had committed cyber espionage to interfere in the 2016 presidential election is a very important issue. Nineteen percent of respondents believe it is somewhat important, while 12 percent view it as not so important and 20 percent believe it is not important.

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The House Intelligence Committee is investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the presidential election. On Mar. 20, FBI director James Comey disclosed before Congress that his bureau was conducting an ongoing investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government to undermine former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign, Foreign Policy reports.

On Mar. 22, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California publicly announced that the U.S. intelligence community had incidentally conducted surveillance on several members of the Trump transition team. The chairman had briefed Trump on his findings before making them public, but had not disclosed them to other members of his committee.

Nunes' announcement outraged Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who asserted that his colleague's decision to inform the president of information relevant to their investigation might have compromised his ability to conduct the probe fairly.

"The chairman will either need to decide if he's leading an investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House," Schiff said from Capitol Hill, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Schiff added that if the House Intelligence Committee could not conduct their investigation transparently, then an independent commission would be needed.

On Mar. 23, Republican Sen. John McCain called for a bipartisan select committee to probe the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, asserting that the public disagreement between Nunes and Schiff had compromised their panel's investigation.

"I'm calling for a select committee because I think this back-and-forth shows that Congress no longer has the credibility to handle this alone," McCain told MSNBC. "And I don't say that lightly."

Sources: Foreign Policy, Los Angeles TimesMSNBC, Quinnipiac University / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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