Public needs to understand Russia investigation to act

By Editorial Board

The American public is watching as significant developments are aired in the ongoing investigation into the White House administration’s relationship with Russia, but is the public—and college students in particular—able to understand this complex scenario? Will they be able to react if Special Counsel Robert Mueller is fired or even gauge the significance of what is happening?

The confusion is understandable but the stakes are too high to ignore this story, as attempts to derail the investigation are accelerating.

The latest development began Feb. 2 after the House Intelligence Committee publicly released a controversial memo accusing the FBI and Department of Justice of abusing surveillance powers to spy on President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, who has been suspected as a Russian agent by the FBI since 2013. 

The memo—which was drafted by the Committee’s Republican chair, Devin Nunes—is the latest and most significant attempt to discredit Mueller’s investigation. The Trump administration has realized that simply denying collusion with the Russian government isn’t enough to put the issue to rest. Instead, they want us to believe abuse of power by the FBI and Justice Department in a so-called “witch hunt” is the real problem. 

The memo is being heavily criticized by Democrats for omitting important information that would dispute Republicans’ accusations of a biased investigation and the president has been slow to release their rebuttal memo on security grounds. 

Russian interference became a grave problem months before Trump’s election. In July 2016, the FBI announced it was launching an investigation after Russian users hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computers and found access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign staffers’ emails. Yet, it wasn’t revealed until much later that fake Russian social media accounts attempted to influence the election by garnering support for Trump with posts and hashtags backing him. 

If there is one key point that is vital to understanding this investigation, it is this: Trump’s team is desperately trying to deflect mountains of serious evidence that lead to what may be a complete breach of the Constitution in order for power-hungry figures to wield their influence over constituents. In true dictatorial fashion, the administration has attempted to distort reality with the memo’s accusations by casting Trump and his associates as victims rather than possible criminals. They have turned to sabotaging committed members of their own party like Mueller, who is a Republican, former FBI director and Bronze star medal recipient for heroism while in Vietnam. 

After months of increasingly worrying revelations on the administration’s involvement with Russia, the public must prepare its response to what may be one of the most egregious abuses of power. Before the nation sinks too deep into an endless tangle of lies and conspiracy, we must rise up to seek—and fight for—the truth.