- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2017

An effort to create an independent commission tasked with investigating claims concerning Russia and its alleged involvement in last year’s White House race gained the endorsement of a GOP lawmaker Friday for the first time since being introduced last month by House Democrats.

Rep. Walter Jones, North Carolina Republican, became the first member of his party this week to support a bill that would establish a specialized, bipartisan commission devoted to determining if and how Russia meddled in last year’s election as widely reported.

Walter Jones deserves credit for being the first House Republican – but hopefully not the last — to acknowledge that our nation deserves an independent, bipartisan investigation into Russia’s hacking of our democracy in last year’s election,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, said in a statement Friday.

“We expect more will follow in his patriotic footsteps and demand a commission that can fully examine the circumstances, inform the public of its findings and develop a plan to prevent this from ever happening again,” added Mr. Swalwell, a ranking member of the House CIA Subcommittee and co-author of the Protecting Our Democracy Act offered last month alongside Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded with high confidence that state-sponsored hackers infiltrated various Democratic targets leading up to last year’s White House race in an effort to elect President Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Despite that consensus, however, only Democrats had up until now supported the Protecting our Democracy Act, the likes of which would establish a bipartisan, 12-person panel to investigate those claims on its own if approved.

Mr. Jones joined all 197 House Democrats on Friday by signing his name to the bill, and one of its authors said others could soon follow suit.

“The dam has cracked,” Mr. Swalwell said, according to the Washington Post. “This is the first time any of them have done anything on Russia with us,” he added. “The Republicans who have been on the sidelines wanting to get on the field, but a little nervous, they don’t have to be the first Republican. There’s a Republican on board.”

Mr. Jones, 74, has represented North Carolina’s third congressional district since 1994. He previously served a decade in the state legislature as a Democrat prior to switching parties.


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