The congressional investigations into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia are off to such a sluggish start that they could stretch into next year’s midterm election season. That’s a silver lining for Democrats who have grumbled that investigators aren’t moving fast enough — but who would be delighted to see the issue in the headlines as voters head to the polls.
Interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers involved in the House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigations show there is no consensus on how long they should take. The interviews also show just how politicized these investigations have already become, which threatens to undermine Congress’ chance at determining what did or didn’t happen in the 2016 campaign.
“Some of our Democratic colleagues would love to go into the midterms with this narrative still being out there,” said Republican Chris Stewart of Utah, a member of the House intelligence panel. He said any suggestion that his committee’s investigation should continue into next year is “nuts.”
“There’s absolutely no reason it should take a multi-year effort,” Stewart said.
But California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell said he expects the House probe to take “at least a year.” Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, the No. 2 Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, pegged the timeline at about six months but said that it could be much longer.
“We’ve got a pretty substantial witness list; we’ve got a lot of documents,” Himes said, explaining that witness interviews would be a major time commitment.