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Congress Must Investigate the Trump-Putin Connection Before Accepting Trump's Election, Not After

December 12, 2016

By Joe Rothstein

Now we've learned that the CIA concluded well before election day that the relentless flow of email leaks that trashed Hillary Clinton was a conscious, organized effort by the Russian government to tilt the campaign to Donald Trump.

Given this extraordinary development, it would be the apex of irresponsibility to allow the process of certifying the 2016 election to move forward in a routine way.

A bi-partisan group of senators and members of the U.S. House have called for an investigation into the Russian government’s role in influencing the election. At least 10 members of the Electoral College itself are demanding a confidential briefing before the Electoral College is scheduled to meet to cast each state’s votes.

All of this should happen immediately, before any further action to certify the November 8 election results.

The entire process of confirming Trump as president should be put on hold while U.S. leaders act on an emergency basis to review the intelligence community’s information and analysis. The Electoral College does not have to cast 270 votes for Trump. Many could abstain while Congress investigates. Congress is scheduled to affirm the election on January 3. But legally it can postpone that action until it decides whether the U.S. election was corrupted by a hostile foreign power.

In light of intelligence reports these actions would be imperative no matter who was considered the president-elect. But in Trump we have a potential president who has extensive business investments in Russia, a man who has praised Vladimir Putin’s leadership, and who has designated a national security adviser so extraordinarily close to Putin that he was seated next to him at an important Russian state banquet.

In addition to Trump’s disturbing history with Russia, during the campaign, Trump proposed violating religious rights, free speech and freedom of the press. He displayed little knowledge, or even interest, in the laws of the land, solemn treaties, or even acceptable moral behavior. His willingness to spread lies, and defend them, is well documented. He seems to have no understanding of the meaning of “conflicts of interest.” And his “only I can fix it” claim sends authoritarian shocks through a body politic that has survived for more than two centuries on checks and balances and consensus among competing interests.

All of this describes how Putin turned an emerging democratic Russia into a society where he alone rules through fear, intimidation and corruption.

In seeing Putin as a role model, Trump apparently approves of Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, his bullying of other NATO countries, his shutting down of the free press and his confiscation of property from his political adversaries. If Putin is indeed behind the meddling that helped Trump win the election we have every right and reason to ask “why.”

The alarm bells get louder with every news cycle about how a Trump victory was achieved and what it means. The Obama White House has a responsibility to be totally candid with the public about what it knows. The Congress has a duty to protect U.S. interests by thoroughly investigating the Trump-Putin connection--before handing Trump the power of the U.S. presidency.

There was nothing routine about the 2016 election. There should be nothing routine about accepting its results.

(Joe Rothstein can be contacted at joe@einnews.com)

Joe Rothstein is editor of U.S. Politics Today. His career in politics spans 35 years, as a strategist and media producer in more than 200 campaigns for political office and for many political causes. He was a pioneer in professional political consulting and one of the founding members of the American Association of Political Consultants. During his career Mr. Rothstein has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA.