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The full story of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election is not yet known. Nor is it known when special prosecutor Robert Mueller will finish his investigation of it, or what conclusions he will draw about the involvement of the president or his campaign.
But regardless of where the facts ultimately lead, it’s not too soon to marvel at the abdication of responsibility by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Not only has Ryan failed to quell threats among his Republican colleagues to end Mueller’s investigation, he has failed to relieve House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of his duties. Nunes has repeatedly questioned the integrity and professionalism of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department officials, most recently by compiling a classified memo about alleged abuses in the investigation. The House Intelligence Committee voted Jan. 29 to make the memo public, disregarding a Justice Department warning that doing so would be “extraordinarily reckless.”
The White House now will review the memo for possible harm to national-security interests. Regardless of its decision, any federal agency asked to share classified or sensitive information with Congress — and any foreign intelligence organization asked to share the same with its U.S. counterparts — will now hesitate to do so. It’s hard to blame them, or to see the good this does the cause of national security.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr is overseeing a more even-handed investigation. But McConnell has been insufficiently outspoken in defense of Mueller’s investigation.
Senator Lindsey Graham said last weekend that if Trump succumbed to temptation and fired Mueller, it would be the end of his presidency. It was evidence that Graham understands the enormous stakes of the Mueller investigation and realizes that to preserve rule of law in a dangerous time, lines must be clearly drawn.
Why does it fall to the senator from South Carolina to make such a statement? The legislative branch is supposed to act as a check on the executive branch. Where is the Senate majority leader? Where is the speaker of the House?
This editorial was written by the Bloomberg News editors. Send comments to email@example.com.