Congress probes likely to con­tinue into 2018

The Mercury News Weekend - - OTHER VIEWS - ByMary Clare Jalonick

WASH­ING­TON » Some Repub­li­cans are hop­ing law­mak­ers will soon wrap up in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion that have dragged on for most of the year. But with new de­tails in the probe emerg­ing al­most daily, that seems un­likely.

Three con­gres­sional com­mit­tees are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence and whether Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign was in any way in­volved. The pan­els have ob­tained thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments from Trump’s cam­paign and other of­fi­cials, and have done dozens of in­ter­views.

The probes are sep­a­rate from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mueller can pros­e­cute for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, while Congress can only lay out find­ings, pub­li­cize any per­ceived wrong­do­ing and pass leg­is­la­tion to try to keep prob­lems from hap­pen­ing again. If any com­mit­tee finds ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, it must re­fer the mat­ter to Mueller.

All three com­mit­tees have fo­cused on a June 2016 meet­ing that Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials held in Trump Tower with a Rus­sian lawyer and oth­ers. They are also look­ing into out­reach by sev­eral other Rus­sians to the cam­paign, in­clud­ing in­volve­ment of Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, who pleaded guilty this month to ly­ing to the FBI as part of Mueller’s probe. New threads con­tinue to emerge, such as a re­cent rev­e­la­tion that Don­ald Trump Jr. was mes­sag­ing with Wik­iLeaks, the web­site that leaked emails from top Demo­cratic of­fi­cials dur­ing the cam­paign.

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