In light of the stunning events of the past week, the question is not whether the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government need to be investigated immediately and fully — clearly they do. It’s who will be in charge of that investigation?
The Republicans in Congress can’t decide whether they would rather act like a responsible, independent branch or just the friendly legislative arm of the White House. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House oversight committee, would sooner investigate a cartoon character named Sid the Science Kid than any allegations relating to President Trump.
The prize for partisan candor goes to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who said on Tuesday, “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.”
James Comey, the embattled F.B.I. director, can’t be trusted to be a neutral investigator, either — not after his one-sided interference in the 2016 election compromised the bureau’s integrity and damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign in its final days. Anyway, Mr. Comey reports directly to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was not only Mr. Trump’s first and most ardent supporter in the Senate, but the chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee.
Despite his closeness to Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions has said he sees no reason to recuse himself from any inquiry into the relationship between the president’s top aides and Russia. Mr. Trump’s unexplained allegiance to that country and its thug of a president, Vladimir Putin, has been a major concern from the start of his candidacy. But the scope of a potential investigation expanded sharply in the last four days, with the firing of Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lying to the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and the news that members of the Trump campaign’s inner circle were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence agents last year, at the same time that Russia was actively attempting to swing the election to Mr. Trump.