Hatch urges fair and thorough investigation into Russian meddling

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke in a Judiciary Committee hearing examining “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence US Elections: Lessons Learned from Current and Prior Administrations.”

Acknowledging the indisputable evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Senator Hatch urged that the investigation into this matter be fair and thorough.

Mr. Chairman, I come to this hearing with one simple message: Let’s be fair. Let’s judge both sides of the political divide – both parties – by the same standards. 

There are few things I take more seriously than the allegation of foreign interference in the 2016 election. Actual foreign influence would be an egregious violation of our sovereignty; even the plausible allegation of it can, if left unaddressed, seriously undermine public confidence in our institutions.

Now, we have heard some pretty serious accusations of foreign influence over the Trump campaign – whether here in the Senate, or in the media. Many of these allegations have been truly outlandish. Most have been politically motivated. And all have been taking their toll.

Even the most outrageous accusation, repeated often enough, will slowly acquire a false ring of truth – especially in today’s media environment. And so, to the extent there is anything to these allegations, Republicans are stepping up. There are investigations underway by both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees.

Before the appointment of a Special Counsel by the Department of Justice, the House Oversight Committee was investigating. And now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating. All are controlled by Republicans.

So, I don’t want to hear anyone complain that we aren’t standing up and doing what is necessary to get to the bottom of this.

As to today’s hearing, a critical part of the investigation in this Committee will be the application of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It’s a crucial part of the equation. I want to commend Chairman Grassley for holding this hearing, and leading the way on this. But I also want everyone – the media, the Democrats, our constituents – to hear me, and to hear me clearly: While these allegations may be too serious to ignore, they are also too serious to be left incomplete, and too serious to be used for partisan ends.

If we are going to get to the bottom of this, we need to investigate the whole story. That means looking at more than just foreign influence over the Trump campaign. It includes looking at serious allegations of foreign influence over the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

After all, if this national controversy is going to be brought to any legitimate conclusion, we have to treat it as more than just fodder for partisan gamesmanship, and more than a headline-grabbing attack on the President.

We need to explore both sides of the story.

According to the Committee staff report, and as numerous reports in the media have revealed, there are serious questions about whether foreign actors wanted to hurt, not help, the Trump campaign, and there are serious questions about whether foreign actors wanted to help, not hurt, the Clinton campaign.

Many suspect that foreign actors wanted to help neither campaign, but hurt our electoral process as a whole by sowing chaos and confusion. And so, there are questions this Committee needs answered. I’m pleased that Trump campaign individuals have agreed to be interviewed.

But it doesn’t end with them. Fusion GPS, for instance, the opposition research firm, has questions to answer. The Democratic National Committee has questions to answer. And the Clinton campaign has questions to answer.

In conclusion, we have heard Democrats level grave, often outlandish, accusations at the Trump administration and family. We have seen the media pursue it relentlessly. But we’ve have heard far less about the rest of the story.

Mr. Chairman, I applaud you for scheduling this hearing. And I implore my Democratic colleagues, and the media, to join me, to join the Judiciary Committee, in getting to the bottom of this. We must ensure that these investigations serve as an opportunity to protect our institutions, not merely as an excuse to attack our political opponents. Our constituents deserve better than what they’ve gotten. We start fixing that today.