clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gather the facts before jumping to conclusions on Trump and Russia

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigation Task Force. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Every time the House Intelligence Committee meets to investigate Russian interference in last November’s presidential election, it’s something of a relief to remember that the FBI is conducting an investigation of its own.

The level of resistance by the committee to a credible probe is something to be seen. Conclusions are demanded — Nothing happened, right? — before the facts are known.

EDITORIAL

Meanwhile, Democrats throw around the word impeachment, flashing back to their glory days of Watergate, also before the facts are known. They are getting ahead of themselves and, according to polls, ahead of the American people, who are deeply divided on this one.

Yes, it is true, as Democrats note, that former CIA Director John O. Brennan uttered the T-word — treason — during his testimony before the House committee Tuesday, but only in a highly conditional context. Brennan avoided explicitly saying the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And if there was collusion, he seemed to suggest, the campaign may have bumbled into it, unaware they were dealing with spies.

“Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late,” Brennan said.

We’ll have to put our bets on the FBI’s investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, to get to the bottom of this whole affair. Three separate congressional investigations are staggering along. And the probe by the House Intelligence Committee, as it demonstrated again Tuesday, seems particularly sad. Republican members of the committee would much rather this headache just go away.

Repeatedly, committee members pushed Brennan to say he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Repeatedly, Brennan declined to do so, saying he had seen enough evidence to encourage the FBI to keep “pulling threads.”

This annoyed Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who wants only to bury the controversy.

“That doesn’t help us a lot. What was the nature of the information?” Gowdy said to Brennan.

“It’s classified, and I’m happy to talk about it in the classified session,” Brennan replied.

“And that would have been directly between the candidate and Russian state actors?” Gowdy shot back.

“That’s not what I said,” Brennan replied. “I’m not going to talk about any individuals.”

And so it goes.

As important as it is to get to the bottom of Russia’s tampering and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion, it is more important to conduct thorough investigations of great integrity, taking all the time that is necessary.

It’s not enough to judge. The public must be convinced the judgment is fair.