The arrival of new faces and more personnel may mark a turnaround by members of the Republican Party with regard to addressing alleged Russian ties to the administration of President Donald Trump. However, the progress of the numerous investigations that are underway may still not satisfy many Americans when it comes to answering the many questions that continue to hover over the new chief executive.
One of the most significant changes was the departure of Rep. Devin Nunes as chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of the investigations. Nunes, who had been harshly criticized for disclosing sensitive information to the Trump administration, has been replaced by Rep. Kenneth “Mike” Conaway, another Republican. Under the leadership of the new chairman, the inquiry is “back on track,” at least according to the leading Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff.
Concurrent with the House investigation, an inquiry by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has picked up steam after a sluggish start. The committee now has more staff members than the seven part-timers it had previously employed. Its staff is still small compared to the 46 members employed by a special committee that examined the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. However, Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is heading another investigation that could supplement the main probe.
In addition to the congressional action, an inquiry on Russian intervention in the last presidential election is being conducted by the FBI, under the guidance of its besieged director, James Comey. The Trump administration is also facing a legal challenge by an outside group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The supporters of this lawsuit claim that Trump’s businesses continue to profit from interaction with foreign governments, which could be a violation of the so-called emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Pentagon has also entered the picture over charges that Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army general and former member of the Trump administration, accepted a payment from a Russian government agency without the required authorization. Flynn was reportedly paid some $33,000 by a television network operated by the Russian government for a speech he gave in Moscow. He also failed to disclose this income when seeking a renewal of his security clearance from the U.S. government. Flynn served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser and was dismissed after failing to disclose his other Russian contacts.
The refusal by the White House to provide additional information about Flynn has irked Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who had in the past both criticized and defended Trump. His latest response may indicate that Chaffetz is also serious about looking into what has concerned so many other Americans. However, these concerned citizens may have to wait for a while until their many questions about the Trump administration are finally answered.