The public needs to have confidence that any investigation into various Trump administration officials’ contacts with Russian officials is being carried out vigorously and fairly. Unfortunately, public and private comments by the respective heads of the House and Senate intelligence committee suggest they have already prejudged the results. As for Sessions, he has recused himself only from matters involving the 2016 election, which would presumably include any Russian attempts to meddle in the outcome; but as the attorney general himself emphasized, his recusal relates to matters investigating the presidential campaign. However, as recent revelations demonstrate, the Trump team’s Russian connections reportedly continued into the transition, and more investigation may push the timeline even further. It is certainly not a crime to meet with Russian officials. But the public has the right to know if any of these conversations crossed the line by, for example, relating to alleged Russian hacking or other intrusions upon our election processes.
Because of this, Attorney General Sessions and Acting Deputy Attorney General Boente should follow the example set by Ashcroft and Comey before them and appoint a special counsel to handle matters relating to all questions surrounding Russian officials’ actions relating to the 2016 presidential election, and also to questions about how that influence effort may have continued past the campaign, and indeed may continue to this day. As then-Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said, “the truth is the engine of our judicial system.” It is also the only way to ensure that the government is serving the best interests of the American people—and only the American people.