USA TODAY International Edition

We need new ways to protect our democracy

- Eric Swalwell Rep. Eric Swalwell, D- Calif., is ranking member of the House Intelligen­ce CIA Subcommitt­ee.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump Jr., then- Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, son- in- law and close adviser to the president, met in June 2016 with a Russian government emissary whom they believed had damaging informatio­n about Hillary Clinton.

In the short term, Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked and Congress must not allow this administra­tion to soften any sanctions against Russia. In the longer term, it is crucial that we have an independen­t, bipartisan commission to protect our democracy. America deserves a full explanatio­n and policy prescripti­ons it can trust.

The Protecting Our Democracy Act, which I co- authored, would create an independen­t commission with members named by both parties. I’ve had private conversati­ons with dozens of my Republican colleagues about this. For now, the bill has only two Republican co- sponsors: Walter Jones and Justin Amash. But we no longer have the luxury of time, or of indulging those who would deny the danger facing us.

To my Republican colleagues who believe the House investigat­ion has become too partisan: Work with me now to make that stop. Help me take an investigat­ion of this magnitude where it belongs: outside of Congress, and into the hands of independen­t experts in national security, foreign policy and election law.

Let’s leave the criminal questions to special counsel Robert Mueller. Can’t we agree that Russia interfered in our election and plans to do it again? Even if we agree on only this, we have a re- sponsibili­ty to our constituen­ts to secure the next election not only from an influence campaign but also, God forbid, the possibilit­y of vote- tally tampering.

I don’t enjoy what this investigat­ion has done to an alreadyhyp­er- partisan Congress. I’ve seen friendship­s and working relationsh­ips, my own and those of others, frayed and tested to the breaking point. I’ve seen bipartisan staff partnershi­ps strained as dutiful public servants dig in to defend their bosses.

I get it. Sometimes this feels like a zero- sum game for both sides. Republican­s believe that for Democrats, victory is nothing short of removing Trump from office; Democrats believe Republican­s are willing to defend him at all costs, regardless of the evidence or cost to our nation.

But this can’t be about one person or party. It has to be about the people at home who are counting on us to do what’s right. That means telling them who if anyone worked with Russia to compromise our election and then making sure our country never finds itself in this kind of situation again.

It’s not too late. The 9/ 11 Commission was created a full year after we were attacked from the skies and it made good recommenda­tions to keep us safer, many of which are now law. Our nation is better protected from terrorism because of it.

Let’s come out of our corners while there’s still time. Let’s put aside our political difference­s and put country ahead of party. The integrity of our democratic elections is at stake, and we must rise united to protect it.

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