- The Washington Times
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

House Democrats launched a petition drive Wednesday to try to force a vote on creating an independent commission to investigation the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Rep. Elijah Cummings said Republicans’ lack of willingness to take action, combined with news that Mr. Trump reportedly pressured former FBI Director James Comey to close the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, proves only an independent commission can get the answers in this case.

“Speaker Ryan has show, zero, zero, zero, appetite in the investigation of Donald Trump,” said Mr. Cummings. “[Republicans] do as little as humanly possible just to claim that they’re doing something.”

The petition drive is an occasional tactic used by the minority party in the House try to to force a bill to the floor over the objections of the majority party, which controls the process. A majority of House lawmakers must sign the petition to succeed — which would mean about two dozen Republicans would have to break ranks with Mr. Trump.

So far, most Republicans say they want to let the current FBI investigation and several congressional probes continue before seeing if an independent commission is needed.

But with reports raising new questions almost daily, Democrats said more needs to be done.

Rep. Adam Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, said that an independent commission is not just a political solution, but a practical one.

“The commission will have the resources necessary to really do this job,” he said.

He said that although the House investigation is doing the best it can, they don’t have the resources or staff that an independent commission would.

“We would tremendously benefit in my view from an independent body that has a singular focus.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is pushing this driving this petition along with Mr. Cummings, said that the commission would have 12 members, appointed by bipartisan means, and that the group would have subpoena powers.

“I just signed the discharge petition on the floor and I did it because the cost of these events have become too much for the people we represent,” he said. “A commission would also be helpful in depoliticizing what is happening here in Washington.”

But Democrats emphasized that their effort is not based on impeachment, but rather on gathering the information.

Mr. Cummings said, “If it takes a year, if it takes two years or if it takes three years. We need to get it right.”

“This is bigger than us. This is bigger than President Trump. This is about the soul of our democracy.”

Mr. Schiff agreed saying the severity of an impeachment is one that no one should “wish for.”

“Because it’s such an extraordinary and wrenching remedy I don’t believe it’s something people should wish for,” he said.

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