Bill: S. 27. To establish an independent commission to examine and report on the facts regarding the extent of Russian official and unofficial cyber operations and other attempts to interfere in the 2016 United States national election, and for other purposes.
Federal Legislature: Federal – Senate
Current Status: As of 01/04/2017, read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Stake Holders: American Public, Local Boards of Elections, Congress, POTUS, Political Parties, Other Nations, Our Democracy
Why We Care:
Compelling reasons to support an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election include:
- Pervasive reach of interference impedes impartial examination
The entities ordinarily responsible for investigating such matters (Justice Department, Congress) are under the control of the party that apparently benefited from the Russian interference. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself; Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has stepped aside after his apparent attempts to shift attention to the Democrats by releasing classified information; and his replacement, Mike Conaway, has contended that Russian meddling in the 2016 election is no different than Democrats enlisting Mexican entertainers to campaign for Hillary Clinton.
- Multiple links between Trump campaign and Russia:
- Michael Flynn – Trump’s first pick for National Security Adviser, was forced to resign after failing to disclose potentially illegal phone conversations with the Russian Ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration regarding American sanctions on Russia.
- Carter Page – A campaign adviser recruited by Russian spies, intervened to change language regarding Ukraine in the Republican National Platform to remove anti-Russian sentiment.
- Erik Prince (brother of Betsy DeVos, founder of Blackwater) met with a Russian close to Putin 9 days before the inauguration at a secret meeting in the Seychelles arranged by the United Arab Emirates.
- Ties between Trump organization, Russia, former USSR states
When Trump’s businesses were faltering in the 1990s, he was unable to secure domestic loans and turned to Russia for help. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Donald Trump, Jr. told a real estate conference in 2008. According to Talking Points Memo, “many of the figures in [Trump’s] orbit were at least in the business of shepherding money out of those countries into New York real estate. In many or most cases the FBI and the DOJ suspected them of money laundering and ties to organized crime.”
- FBI’s complex involvement
Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and co-founder of Bayrock Capital, illustrates not only the complexity of Trump’s ties to people and money in the countries of the former Soviet Union but also the muddling of the FBI’s role in this matter. Sater was recently in the news for delivering a pro-Russian “peace plan” for Ukraine, to Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer (who has significant energy investments in Ukraine), for forwarding to Michael Flynn.
- Widespread national support for independent investigation
There is widespread national support for an independent investigation and bi-partisan support in Congress. John McCain (R.-AZ) said recently that Congress had lost the credibility to objectively investigate the Trump camp’s Russia ties, and called for the creation of an independent commission. A March 2017 Quinnipiac poll of voters nationwide indicates the growing public concern over this issue and the need for investigation.
How Does It Meet Our Stated Objective? Indivisible promotes inclusiveness, tolerance and fairness. A foreign government’s interference in a presidential election is inherently unfair to the democratic process and the American voter. Only an independent investigation can restore the public’s faith in our democratic system and the current administration.
Local Impact: Disillusionment and distrust regarding the legitimacy of the current administration and its policies as they play out locally
- Contact both Democrat and Republican MoCs urging them to support S. 27
- Remind Republicans of Watergate and how they have the most to gain in terms of their support for S. 27
- Write a letter to the editor urging Republicans in Congress to step up
- Read the complete bill
- Explore other examples of Trump/Russia links including Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2nd Campaign Manager here and here, and Trump Advisor Roger Stone’s involvement with the DNC hacking here
- More from Politico on Trump, Bayrock, Sapir and Chabad
- Trump’s shady Azerbaijan hotel and connections to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
- See related legislation including 94 (sanctions for cyber intrusions) and H.R. 1059 (requiring Trump to Congress before lifting sanctions related to Ukraine/Russia meddling)
- More from NYT on what the I.A. knew about Russian involvement and when