POGO Executive Director Testifies Before Congress
Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing exploring the question of whether Congress should continue its investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections concurrently with the ongoing criminal investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
There has been a long history of concurrent Congressional and criminal investigations. Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), testified before the committee to layout the historical evidence of such concurrent investigations being beneficial to the public interest.
Below are key excerpts from her written testimony:
Congress and the executive branch are not only capable of conducting concurrent investigations, they have successfully done so in the past.
Clearly, the controversy and debate over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the integrity of our democratic institutions demand Congressional attention. The American people have a right to know the truth.
The lack of common understanding across the country on what did or did not happen, and whether our rule of law is being properly followed, is fueling a damaging rift in our democracy. It is the role of Congress to provide the facts to the public.
POGO recently released a report detailing best practices for Congressional investigations that lead to a much better chance of success. Our report found that concurrent Congressional and criminal investigations can be complementary, and history shows that the public can benefit when both the executive and legislative branches examine the same scandals and events at the same time.
The bottom line is whether or not any criminal wrongdoing is established, the Congress has a responsibility to determine whether policy reforms are required. Without a congressional investigation, significant public policy questions will remain unanswered.
- Is the Foreign Agent Registration Act working or does it need to be reformed?
- Does the federal government need to increase protections for the integrity of elections?
- Are financial disclosure requirements of public officials being undermined by anonymous shell corporations and financial secrecy jurisdictions?
- Have there been non-criminal abuses of power by the Department of Justice or White House? Has the application of justice been politicized?
None of these questions will be answered by criminal prosecutions.