New Report: Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide

June 7, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey will testify tomorrow before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as part of its investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. A new report from The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide, is a primer on the options available for investigating the complex and politically-charged allegations at issue, which have profound implications for our democratic institutions and national security. The report is accompanied by five tables that explain the scope and activities so far of the current investigations. Also today, a new report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Necessary and Proper: Best Practices for Congressional Investigations, highlights what congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election can learn from past probes.

Both the Brennan Center and POGO are calling for robust congressional inquiries.                                                                                                                       

“This is not the first time that a matter of national urgency has required a thorough investigation,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program. “History is replete with important investigations that exposed wrongdoing, explained the stakes, and educated the public. Done right, these reflect American governance at its best.”

Danielle Brian, POGO’s Executive Director, said “Our report shows that major successful congressional investigations over the past decades were properly resourced, supported, focused, and empowered to deliver strong results and meaningful reforms. Right now, we do not believe the current congressional inquiries have all the necessary elements to make them successful, but it’s not too late.”

Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide outlines the key investigative mechanisms available to the legislative and executive branches, methodically highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each option. The report comes to four key conclusions:

  • A comprehensive congressional investigation is vital. The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel serves as a complement, rather than a barrier, to congressional action.
                   
  • Congress should structure the investigations to minimize partisanship.
     
  • Congressional investigations must have sufficient resources, and its leadership should make funds available that allow the investigations to quickly ramp up their staffing.
     
  • Investigations should encompass not just collusion with the Russian government around the 2016 election, but other ties with Russian individuals or interests as well. The committees that are currently conducting inquiries should also be more transparent about how they intend to proceed with their investigations.

 
Brennan Center team members with expertise in the FBI, oversight of intelligence activities, national security, and the presidency are available to comment, including the authors of the new report: Faiza Patel and Rachel Levinson-Waldman.

Read the full report, Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide.

Read more about the Brennan Center's work on Liberty & National Security.  

To set up an interview with any of our experts, please contact Blaire Perel at (646)-925-8734 or perelb@brennan.law.nyu.edu.

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