The nation might finally get the answers it needs about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and whether the president tried to impede the FBI’s investigation of it.
Yet another day of extraordinary developments saw Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announce it was “in the public interest” to appoint a special counsel to oversee the probe into the tangled web of Russian connections to Donald Trump and his firing of FBI Director James Comey. And Rosenstein picked a formidable figure — Robert S. Mueller, Comey’s well-regarded predecessor under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Rosenstein acted two days after the White House said there was no need for such an independent investigator, underscoring the pressure that also moved Republicans in Congress to finally begin to fulfill their oversight responsibilities.
Probes rev up
After tap-dancing for weeks around the mounting revelations, the Republican-led House and Senate Wednesday began to step into the spotlight instead of shrinking from it.
The Senate Intelligence Committee and House Oversight Committee asked Comey to testify. Both committees also asked the FBI for notes and memos of all conversations between Trump and Comey, who wrote a memo saying Trump asked him in February to end the investigation of Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.
The White House denies Comey's version of events, but his testimony, which could come as early as next week along with the release of his meticulous paper trail, is likely to inflame the scandal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee requested the specific memo Comey wrote regarding Trump's request to drop the Flynn probe as well as any relevant White House recordings, and continues its dive into possible financial ties between Russia and Trump and his associates.
Ryan still retro
House Speaker Paul Ryan has not gotten the message. He said Wednesday that Congress needs to get information and follow the facts, but prefaced his remarks by saying some people want to harm Trump. That's partisan groveling, not principled leadership. Nor was Ryan leading when he told the GOP conference last June not to discuss remarks made by his deputy, Kevin McCarthy, that Russian President Vladimir Putin was paying Trump and another California congressman.
Are there recordings?
The nation needs to know what Trump said to Comey, and whether tapes exist to corroborate either account. That the White House can't or won't say whether these conversations, or the Oval Office talks with Russian officials, were recorded is outrageous. It's also clear that a new FBI director cannot be named until this mess is resolved.
Trump in denial
In his speech Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy commencement, Trump said, "Things happen to you that you do not deserve," and that he's been treated "worse or more unfairly" by the media than any other president. Once again, this is not about public relations; it's a real crisis.
The truth must come out
We're not rooting for any outcome other than the truth. This is a test of our democracy and our processes, and it must play out. No matter your opinion of Trump, we all must want to see this through. We're Americans. We can always handle the truth.