Congress Must Defyexpectations

December 22, 2018

Congress defied expectations Tuesday when, by an overwhelming bipartisan margin in both houses, it passed a solid criminal justice reform bill. Now, it must defy expectations once again before closing shop. As public court proceedings have cast some light on the direction of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaigns relationship with foreign interests in 2016 and related matters, President Donald Trump’s denunciations of Mueller and figures in the investigation have become more frequent and more frantic. Evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign is abundantly clear, to the point that the CIA has convinced bipartisan intelligence committees in the House and Senate of the past actions and ongoing threats But as the current Congress prepares to adjourn, the risk persists that the details of the interference and related crimes against the American representative democracy might never be known by the American public. With Congress out of town for an extended period, Trump might be disposed to have acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker — a Trump acolyte and Mueller skeptic — fire the special counsel and suspend the investigation. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware want Congress to protect the investigation before it adjourns. They want a vote on their bill that would require the attorney general to provide specific reasons for firing a special counsel, give Mueller the opportunity to challenge his removal in court, and preserve the entire product of the investigation to date. Congress should approve the measure before leaving for the year.

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