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John McCain claims that Congress has no 'credibility' to lead the Russia probes and calls for an Independent select commission to lead.

Congress no longer has the credibility to independently tackle a probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and President Trump and his associates' ties to Moscow, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday.

With the current feud resparked on Wednesday within the House Intelligence Committee.

McCain's comments come amid an increasingly bitter feud that erupted between members of the House Intelligence Committee earlier Wednesday, after the panel's chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) claimed that he had seen evidence that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally surveilled members of Trump's transition team.

The committee's top Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) fired back, blasting Nunes for routing the committee before briefing Trump himself on the apparent findings and saying that the move "casts quite a profound cloud" over the panel's investigation.

If a special commission was to be created to tackle the probes, could Congress still be involved? Or would it be independent from the house altogether?

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    Hmmm, a chance to posture in front of TV cameras? Magic 8-ball says - "All signs point to 'yes'" - not with an independent investigation, but you know for sure they'd be grabbing for headlines at least on a separate track. – PoloHoleSet Mar 23 '17 at 17:03
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Yes, the commission would likely be comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans (around 10). They would likely hire additional staff to assist with the investigation. This does give the House leadership less control of the investigation. These commissions are also generally given broad powers to investigate many things - they could even branch out from their original area of focus.

This differs from the special prosecutor model which would be solely under the Department of Justice (an executive branch agency). The President usually won't interfere with a special prosecutor but does have the authority to do so.

The independence from the executive branch is one of the benefits of the independent commission model. The other advantage is that everything an independent commission does is public. That is not so with a special prosecutor.

  • Thank you for the feedback. You are, however, wrong about an independent commission having more limited powers. They are generally given broad discretion to investigate what they will. That's exactly why the GOP leadership is trying to prevent one from forming. – Ben Cooper Apr 17 '17 at 2:02
  • Executive Order 13328 declares a generic special commission, not a Congressional special commission. Congressional ones have almost always had broad powers. You are technically right that they could only give themselves the right to read existing documents. However, that seems unlikely given the political circumstances that would make an independent commission realistic. Also, I would appreciate it if you would come up with a cogent explanation for why the GOP is trying to prevent one from forming. It would be helpful for this community. – Ben Cooper Apr 17 '17 at 2:14
  • First of all, I do not have problems going outside the scope of the question so long as the original query is answered and the additional information provided is relevant and accurate. Secondly, arguing that a special commission is only required in cases of impropriety with members of Congress is tenuous at best. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan and many others were all created to investigate people and groups who were not a part of Congress. – Ben Cooper Apr 17 '17 at 2:26
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Ben Cooper Apr 17 '17 at 2:59
  • Did you mean "compromised" or "comprised"? – Jens May 13 '17 at 16:14
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Ties to Moscow are irrelevant. Russia is open for business. Every US corporation has ties to Moscow... as much as it has ties to Japan or to France. We are not in 1980's when everyone in USSR who came into contact with foreigners could expect to be debriefed by the security apparatus.

The question is whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Since this is a very technical question (because what's alleged is technical meddling), the investigation would be much more trustworthy if it could be conducted by people with technical expertise. This doesn't spell out a retired prosecutor. This spells out an active and up-to-date team from the intelligence or top law enforcement. Which puts it in the ballpark of the people who are already investigating it -- FBI/NSA/CIA.

EDIT Just consider the fact that other than the heads of FBI and NSA, the investigating Congressional committee has called no witnesses. What value could another lawyer bring to the investigation? If there is no human beings to question, what would be his or her function? DOJ prosecutor's function is to evaluate the weight of the evidence uncovered by investigating agencies and, if the evidence points to it, prosecute cases. None of this makes them better qualified than members of investigating agencies familiar with the most modern security methods.

  • You are answering the question whether or not an independent investigation would be more effective. This person wants to know if it would be be immune to interference. Answer the question, please. – Ben Cooper Apr 16 '17 at 4:31
  • You are right that politics doesn't have one correct answer like math or law does. However, that doesn't mean you can talk about what you will in an answer. The question was very narrow: will Congress be involved with an independent commission? It is certainly fair game to provide additional context surrounding that question but not answering the question and going off on a tangent is not. – Ben Cooper Apr 17 '17 at 2:03

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