He’s right to be a Burr under Trump’s saddle – Washington Examiner

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is a hero. Or at least, he’s the one guy actually doing his job, while fellow Republican officeholders attacking him are party hacks.

They are hacks in the same way House Judiciary Committee Democrats wrongly holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress are hacks. Both sides — indeed, almost all members of Congress these days — repeatedly put party over country and politics over principle.

House Democrats literally want Barr to break the law in order to comply with the meritless subpoena they issued to him. The Republican critics of Burr want him to ignore important questions of national security so they can declare “case closed” on all matters of Russian perfidy related to the 2016 elections.

Shame on all of them.

In the midst of all this, Burr looks like a rare officeholder who understands the requirements of statesmanship. At some point in the last few weeks, Burr, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, signed off on a subpoena to the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. Burr’s committee has been investigating the intelligence issues involved in Russia’s indisputable efforts to subvert the 2016 elections.

The committee’s job is different from that of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller was conducting a criminal investigation that spun off, quite rightly, from a counterintelligence investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee is not a prosecutorial body. Its job is to conduct oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies and of breaches of American interests.

The public does not know specifically why the committee has subpoenaed the younger Trump. Intelligence Committee deliberations, for obvious reasons, are more confidential than those of other committees. The whole world knows, though, that Trump Jr. was the person in the president’s inner circle who clearly was willing to conspire with Russian government interests if it would help his father’s campaign.

Trump Jr. eagerly accepted the invitation to what became the notorious Trump Tower meeting with several Russians when it was sold to him as a chance to acquire information for the campaign from Russia’s “crown prosecutor” (a misnomer), that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

The meeting apparently produced nothing of the sort, so Trump Jr. and his campaign compatriots were not charged with conspiring after all. But if the Trump inner circle was so cognizant that the Russian government was trying to help their campaign, then even if they did not actively conspire with it, there remains the chance that Trump Jr. knows more than he so far has told about how the Russians operated. Perhaps he even knows it only unwittingly. Perhaps the committee now has information that Trump Jr. had other contacts with Russian nationals that he thought was innocent, or business-related, but that actually might reveal Russian intelligence sources and methods.

The point is, we don’t know exactly what information the committee has, or what it’s looking for. What we do know is that Burr, long a party loyalist, has nothing obvious to gain from bucking his own party here by following a lead involving the president’s son. The only realistic conclusion, then, is that Burr is doing his job and pursuing a valid line of inquiry, not just trying to nail Trump Jr.’s hide to the wall. Doesn’t Burr, as committee chairman and as someone not previously known as a major critic of the president, deserve the benefit of the doubt that his aims are reasonable?

Instead, Burr’s fellow Republican senators had snit fits. Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, former presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Burr’s North Carolina colleague Thom Tillis, along with several members of the House Republican leadership as well, were among those blasting Burr for daring to subpoena the president’s son. Indeed, the only other Republican in Congress willing to make a thorough defense of Burr was Iowa’s old bull Chuck Grassley, who understands that the national interest supersedes narrow partisan concerns.

Here’s a novel idea: Why not wait until we see what Burr is trying to accomplish before spouting off, on either side? Russian interference in American elections is a serious issue, and Burr is proving himself serious enough to tackle it.


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