Congress must fully investigate Russia’s meddling in our government. This is needed to restore faith in the independence and security of the White House and the United States.

Share story

AMERICANS must know the extent of Russian meddling in our government.

The efforts of our longtime nemesis to intervene in the presidential election were confirmed by intelligence agencies and led to sanctions by President Obama.

This threat to national security was magnified not by leaks or partisan politics, but by the behavior of President Trump and his inner circle. Trump continues to equivocate over Russia, and last week his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned over his communications with a Russian diplomat before the Trump administration took control.

All must be fully investigated, including the White House’s handling of warnings about Flynn.

This is needed to restore faith in the independence and security of the White House and the United States.

Every member of Washington’s 12-member delegation, Republican and Democrat, told this editorial board they support investigating Russian interference. (See their statements online at: st.news/Congress)

This unity is especially welcome in a state that’s shown strong leadership and commitment to enduring values during the other Washington’s rocky transition.

A special, independent commission or prosecutor would be the best response, but dishonorable partisanship may preclude that option. Congress should devote more attention to this major, ongoing threat than it did to the attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

One path forward is the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which committed to investigate Russian interference in the election. The scope of its investigation will be determined shortly and is likely to broaden, according to member U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia.

This committee has a keen appreciation of the risk of foreign interference. It should be given resources and access to classified material needed to produce a complete report.

Republican leadership and Trump should fully support this investigation. Until the air is cleared, a cloud of suspicion will taint this administration at home and abroad. Such concerns will not be brushed aside with blustery attacks on the press or complaints about leaks — dirty laundry must be aired out, not shoved into dark corners to mildew.

The handling of Flynn’s departure was not reassuring. Stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the significance of Flynn’s missteps, Trump said Flynn left because he misled Vice President Pence.

Trump will be Trump. Congress, though, is supposed to oversee and investigate the executive branch and federal officers.

History and voters will judge current members of Congress harshly if they fail to follow through and answer the enormous question of how extensively Russia is influencing our democracy and the Trump administration.

Leaving this question unanswered contributes to instability Russia is fomenting to undermine the strength of the Western Bloc.

Clarity is especially important in Washington, a state that’s home to major military installations and on the front line of any future threat from across the Pacific. Dig deep, Congress, and reveal the truth.