Statement from Congressman Denny Heck regarding end of Russia investigation in House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2018 – Following the announcement by Acting Chairman of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Mike Conaway (TX-11) that the investigation into Russian active measures would conclude, U.S. Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) released the following statement:
“The power of Congress as a check and balance just took a giant blow. Our constitutional responsibility and duty is abandoned when we fail to act because of fears of what we may uncover. I’m also shocked that my colleagues would use this as an opportunity to once again question the expertise, competence, and universal conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.
"This cursory and premature termination of the Russia investigation appears motivated by an effort to protect the President at the expense of discovering what happened and how to prevent interference from happening in the future. No one who has paid attention to the progress of this investigation would think that the work is finished. After more than 100 criminal charges leveled against 19 individuals and three companies, including four official representatives of the Trump campaign which led to three guilty pleas from Trump campaign operatives, collusion is hiding in plain sight. With more cooperation from key witnesses, we can establish how we can best move forward.
“While this investigation comes to a hasty and irresponsible end, the House majority cannot shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller, nor the investigation underway in the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence. Someone will find out the full truth eventually, and those of us who care about countering future Russian aggression will not stay silent or inactive. We will continue to pursue ways to safeguard our elections and protect against future attempts of collusion. While Putin is probably clinking champagne glasses with his oligarch friends and planning what’s next following this news, we are not giving up.”
On March 1, 2017, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announced its investigation into Russian active measures. The scope of the Committee’s inquiry included:
- Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” directed against the U.S. and its allies; Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;
- The U.S. government response to this Russian active measures and any impact they may have on intelligence relationships and traditional alliances; and
- Possible leaks of classified information related to the Intelligence Community’s assessments of these matters.
On March 20, 2017, the committee held an open hearing on the matter with NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers and then-FBI Director James Comey. In the open hearing, Comey confirmed the existence of an FBI inquiry on Russian interference in the presidential election.
Following the veto-proof passage of the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act on August 2, 2017, and the inaction by the executive branch to enact the sanctions against Russia included in the law, Congressman Heck, Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), and Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37) introduced the DISARM Act requiring the executive branch to enforce the existing Russian sanctions in order to halt any further Russian election meddling before the 2018 midterm elections.
On June 21, 2017, Congressman Heck questioned former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about whether he thought Russia would interfere in future elections during an open hearing in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
On December 15, 2016, Congressman Heck called on Congress to establish an independent commission to further investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. On January 6, 2017, Congressman Heck signed on to support H.R. 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act which would establish a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission to investigate Russia’s attempts to interfere in and influence the 2016 elections, and to find a solution to prevent this from happening in the future. On January 10, 2017, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi selected Congressman Heck to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.