Nearly two years after Russia engaged in a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, the United States remains bogged down by hyper-partisan investigations conducted Congress and by the Office of the Special Counsel, which are focused on still unproven allegations of collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.
It is a deeply divisive issue that now transcends Washington and has found its way into the living room of most American households. It has also brought good governance and bipartisanship in Washington to its knees. We, as a nation, simply cannot continue this way.
Without a truly independent, non-criminal investigation that is, at a minimum, free of the perception of political bias (because perception is reality) — the nation is left without an independent account of where our government failed us and how we can defend our nation against future attacks against our democracy. It will also leave the country bitterly divided.
As such, it is time for President Trump to convene a National Commission on Russian Attempts to Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election similar to the 9/11 Commission in both its structure and mission.
For some time, there was hope that the independent Special Counsel’s criminal investigation of activities associated with Russian interference would bring some closure to the issue. After all, the investigation has gone on for well over a year and is headed by a man whose integrity had been beyond reproach for his entire professional career — former acting Deputy Attorney General and F.B.I. Director, Robert Mueller. But unfortunately, that is not the case.
Individuals hired by Mueller have not held themselves to the same standards of personal integrity and independence that Mueller is revered for or have been too politically active to be viewed as impartial. That became even more obvious to the public last week when disgraced F.B.I. Special Agent Peter Strzok testified before Congress after he was found to have sent a number of vulgar, partisan, anti-Trump texts and emails to former F.B.I. colleague Lisa Page, with whom he was alleged to have been having an extramarital affair, while he was the lead investigator on both the Hillary Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations.
Additionally, many others working on the investigation have been politically active, making substantive financial contributions to candidates or politicians involved or associated with the investigation. Collectively, Mueller’s team donated $62,043, 95 percent of which went to Democrats during the 2016 cycle.
With respect to Strzok, whose professional and personal sins were the most egregious, the Justice Department Inspector General described his actions as “not only indicative of a biased state of mind” but implies “a willingness to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects” something he calls “antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”
Not exactly what any rational person would call impartial and, coupled with the political activity by other members of the Special Counsel’s team, all the more reason why an independent Presidential Commission is needed.
If President Trump did form an independent commission, it should focus on the real issue at hand — the failure of members of the Obama administration to effectively respond to and shut down Russian intelligence and influence operations designed to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. That is important as it is not the focus of any of the ongoing criminal & congressional investigations and something the media has largely ignored.
It will also give us an opportunity to identify and fix any of the vulnerabilities that the Russians managed to identify and exploit, which would be the primary benefit.
Additionally, creating a commission would be in President Trump’s best interests. First, members of the Commission would be chosen by him. This would give the President the ability to ensure that the members would be free of the type of hyper-partisanship that has plagued the investigations in Congress and the Special Counsel’s office.
Second, it would also be the first investigation into these matters in which the President would have some level of control. That is something he currently doesn’t have at the moment and leaves him in a position in which he is forced to respond to someone else’s partisan agenda and narrative.
Third, it will finally give the President the legitimacy he has sought in the face of opponents who question the validity or his election and ensure that, if reelected, this is not a viable charge to level at him. It will reinforce our democracy and democratic institutions, restoring legitimacy if only in the eyes of the people and the world.
This idea is not without detractors. Many will cite the fact that the Russians were unsuccessful in achieving their primary goal of affecting the outcome of the election and therefore a commission is not needed. That is true.
But while they weren’t successful THIS time, what about the future? And they were certainly successful in their secondary goal of sowing discord and creating governmental dysfunction. Still, others will want to focus on potential criminal activity as opposed to where our Government failed. However, that is the Special Counsel’s responsibility.
In the end, Mr. President — the decision is yours.
Alex Plitsas is a national security professional. He is a combat veteran and a former Pentagon official.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.