My latest column in The Week calls on realists and others in the foreign policy community who favor a less-confrontational policy towards Russia to lead the charge in calling for a congressional investigation into possible Russian interference in the Presidential campaign and the even more speculative possibility of collusion by the Trump campaign:
The Trump administration might not want such an investigation, though, for reasons having nothing to do with the substance of any discussions with Russian officials. Investigations inevitably metastasize, and draw attention away from an administration’s substantive agenda. In today’s hyper-partisan climate, it’s even more likely that a GOP-led investigation that came up empty would simply be dismissed as part of a coverup.
Individual members of Congress, meanwhile, might support or oppose an investigation for reasons that have nothing to do with the substance of the issue. Opponents of rapprochement with Russia, for example, would have every reason to want to make continued pursuit of such a policy politically toxic.
Which is precisely why it is supporters of such a policy who should be taking the lead in calling for such an investigation.
The Trump administration could stonewall its way through this ongoing scandal, counting on rank partisanship to carry it through the worst. If there were genuinely no crimes committed, such a strategy might even succeed when and if Congress changes hands, and in the meantime the GOP have two years to pass their legislative agenda.
But until the air is clear, American policy towards Russia is badly tainted. Every move this administration makes is being interpreted through the lens of the most outlandish suppositions. In such a climate, the rational thing for the administration to do is abandon any plans for substantive improvement of relations. The Russian government is reportedly already operating on the assumption that Trump will not prove as friendly as hoped, both because of his own personal deficiencies and because of the widening impact of the scandal.
A congressional investigation could well prove a millstone around the administration’s neck, and provide ample opportunity for Democratic grandstanding. But it’s also the only way to rescue American foreign policy towards Russia from a widening gyre of increasingly fantastical speculation and innuendo.
Read the whole thing there.