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Politics

Issa Repeats Call For Independent Review On Possible Russian Ties To Trump

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, is shown in this undated photo.
Courtesy of Rep. Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, is shown in this undated photo.

North County Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, Monday reiterated his support for an independent investigation into possible ties between Russia and President Donald Trump.

Issa originally called for such a review last week, during an appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

Rep. Darrell Issa Interview | Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

In that interview, Issa said the special prosecutor's statute and office would have to be used. On Monday, Issa followed up on that appearance with a written statement in which he said he recommended an independent review. The statement did not use the term "special prosecutor."

Issa told Maher that the investigation should not be handled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, because he is a political appointee. In his statement Monday, Issa said, “Any review conducted must have the full confidence of the American people… I want the Trump administration to be successful and that starts with embracing high standards for openness and transparency.”

Federal investigators have been looking into contacts between Trump advisers and Russia for months, along with Russia's role in political hacking during the campaign aimed at Democrats.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting separate investigations. But revelations last week that the White House enlisted the chairmen of those committees to push back against news reports have intensified concerns over whether the congressional investigations will be tainted by political influence.

On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said there should not be a special prosecutor, and the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, said he has heard no evidence so far that anyone in Trump’s orbit was in contact with Russians during the presidential campaign.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Nunes — a member of Trump's presidential transition team — said Congress should not begin a McCarthy-style investigation based on news reports that a few Americans with ties to Trump had contacted Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"I want to warn all of you," Nunes said. "We can't have McCarthyism back in this place. We can't have the government, the U.S. government or the Congress, legislative branch of government, chasing down American citizens, hauling them before the Congress as if they're some secret Russian agent."

Former Sen. Joe McCarthy led a hunt for communists in the 1950s that was fueled by anonymous informants. Nunes said if evidence surfaces, the committee will investigate.

Issa warned against repeating what he said were mistakes by the previous administration.

“President Obama and Attorney General Lynch allowed obstruction and unanswered questions from the American people to linger, clouding their work and calling into question the impartiality of the FBI’s findings,” Issa said.

Trump was asked Monday whether he would support a special prosecutor to investigate Russia's influence on the 2016 election. Instead of answering that question, he said, "I haven't called Russia in 10 years." Trump did not say why he called Russia a decade ago.

According to a White House description, the last time Trump spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin was Jan. 28 and the White House said Putin had initiated the call. Trump also traveled to Russia in 2013 for the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow.

Trump has denied knowing that any of his campaign advisers were in contact with Russians during the campaign. He has also said he has no financial ties or other connections to Russia.