WASHINGTON—On the news that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will temporarily step aside from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said:
“This may be a step in the right direction, but details of the arrangement are confusing and we first need answers to these questions:
- Is Nunes recusing himself from the investigation for its duration---as he should---or only until the ethics complaints against him are settled?
- Why were three representatives chosen for one job?
- How are Reps. Conaway, Gowdy, and Rooney meant to share responsibility for the probe?
- Are these three men the best choice among House Republicans to provide leadership that is beyond reproach and put in place practices and ground rules that will facilitate a credible, bipartisan investigation?
- And how can possible whistleblowers reasonably be expected to approach the committee while the chairman is under investigation for potentially mishandling classified information?
To ensure the committee effectively does its job, POGO urges the new leader(s) of the investigation to endorse the four basic tenets of good Congressional oversight:
- Establishing leadership that is beyond reproach
- Establishing and following practices that facilitate bipartisanship
- Establishing and following ground rules that protect the investigation from interference
- Establishing a timeline and hearing schedule that presumes timeliness and transparency
If the House Intelligence Committee cannot conduct effective oversight, it will destroy public confidence in the integrity of the investigation.
It’s time for Congress to do its job and get to the bottom of Russian election interference during the 2016 campaign.”