California Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Congress to Order Independent Investigation into Trump-Russia Ties

Senate Resolution 23 – authored by Senators Scott Wiener and Bill Dodd -- also calls for President Trump to release his tax returns to show freedom from any conflict of interest with Russia or any other entities
March 23, 2017

Sacramento – Today the California State Senate passed a resolution authored by Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa) calling for the United States Congress to form a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate any connections between President Donald Trump and Russia. This includes appointing a special prosecutor to investigate any connection between President Trump’s administration, presidential campaign, or his business empire, and the Russian government or related business interests. SR 23 also calls for President Trump to release his tax returns in order to demonstrate he is free from any potential conflicts of interest related to the Russian government, American foreign policy interests, or economic policy prerogatives.

At a hearing this week of the House Intelligence Committee in Washington D.C., FBI Director James Comey confirmed that there are ongoing investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. During and after this hearing, President Trump, his administration, and some Congressional Republicans continued to spread misleading statements about the investigation, the involvement of members of the Trump campaign and administration, and the leaked information itself.

On Wednesday, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, shared intelligence information with President Trump regarding investigations involving the President’s associates but did not share this information with members of his own oversight committee. This action by Congressman Nunes led Senator John McCain to call for an independent committee to take over any investigations, stating that Congress no longer has the credibility to handle the investigations into Trump and Russia.

“When you have an administration obfuscating and lying about any connections and communications with Russia, Congress has no choice but to put partisanship aside and focus on discovering the truth and earning back the public trust,” said Senator Wiener. “Every day seems to bring a new allegation or reporting of contacts and connections between Manchurian candidate Donald Trump and Russia. We need an independent, bipartisan commission to take on this investigation with a special prosecutor who can act free from influence. The integrity of our democracy is at stake.”

“Protecting our democracy from foreign influence is critical for our national security and for maintaining trust in our democracy,” said Senator Bill Dodd. “The American people deserve a thorough, bipartisan and independent investigation of Russia’s connections with the Trump campaign and their attempts to influence our elections. This resolution sends the message to D.C. that we must impartially seek the truth and uphold the public trust.”

“Representative Nunes must immediately resign from the House Intelligence Committee chairmanship,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “He clearly lacks the judgment to hold the gavel and at an absolute minimum, he should recuse himself from any further involvement in this crucial investigation. Congress has put our country before partisan objectives.”

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency, have concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 Presidential election, with the intent to aid Donald Trump. According to both U.S. intelligence agencies and Russian officials, members of the Donald Trump campaign team had regular contact with Russian intelligence officials throughout the campaign.

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, which has been proven not to be true. In addition, multiple Trump campaign and administration officials, including National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and foreign policy adviser Carter Page, resigned their posts after scandals related to their connections with Russia. The Associated Press reported this week that Manafort has previously been paid millions by a Russian oligarch to promote a pro-Putin and pro-Russian agenda, which contradicts previous assertions by the Trump organization that Manafort never worked for any Russian groups.

Beyond the communications between President Trump’s administration and campaign officials with Russia, Trump has also refused to release his tax returns, breaking forty years of tradition of presidential candidates releasing this information. Without publicly reviewable tax returns, it cannot be determined if there exists any conflict of interest between Trump or his business dealings and the Russian state, or any other foreign government. In addition to the call for the release of his returns in SR 23, Senator Wiener is joining Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) on another bill – SB 149 – which will require that any presidential candidate submit five years of tax returns to appear on the California ballot. SB 149 was introduced in response to President Trump’s refusal to undertake this basic act of transparency.