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Investigating Trump Ties to Putin, Congressman Eric Swalwell Says ‘Russia Is Winning Right Now’

And, what’s worse, the House investigation into Russia’s election hacking could take years. 

Rep. Eric Swalwell meeting constituents in Castro Valley.

This Golden State is a podcast from veteran broadcast journalist Randy Shandobil. Click above to play.

At 36 years old, Representative Eric Swalwell is a rising star in the Democratic Party. His influential post on the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election has catapulted him onto the national stage and the cable news circuit. Of his newfound name recognition, Swalwell tells This Golden State’s Randy Shandobil, “I can’t deny that, but I can’t think about it either.” Because, well, a foreign government hacked our election and that’s a big deal. “People feel like our country was attacked, and we are not responding the way we’d respond when attacked,” Swalwell says. “If we do nothing, we’ll lose what we value most: our free and fair elections.” Instead, the attack seems to be succeeding at undermining American principles: “Russia is winning right now. Republicans and Democrats are both losing when an attack like this happens and we continue to be divided.”

Last week, when Trump floated the idea that U.S.–Russia relations may be at an “all-time low,” he seemed to throw cold water on suspicions of collusion. But for Swalwell, what’s important is what happened in 2016, not whatever the president is tweeting now. “I can only look to the facts that exist,” says the former Alameda County prosecutor. “What we see are extensive personal, political, and financial ties that Donald Trump and people in his orbit had with Russia. What we want to know is, Did those ties converge with Russia’s interference campaign?”

The congressman finds the number of Trump associates who failed to report or falsely denied having contact with Russian officials worth looking into, from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Michael Flynn to Jared Kushner: “If one of them occurred, maybe you could say there's an innocent explanation…. But when you start to put all of them together, that’s a pattern of deceit.”

It could all end up just being a coincidence, Swalwell allows. Either way, the investigation will take years, he says, because the House Intelligence Committee wants its findings to be indisputable. “If these are mere coincidences, the president deserves to say the case is closed and he’s cleared,” says the congressman. “If there was collusion, the American people want to make sure we have the evidence to prove it and that anyone involved is held accountable. This is certainly nothing we want to just rush to judgment on.”

 

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