How Russia hysteria paralyzes Congress

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Washington, DC, June 5, 2017 | comments

By Mark Meadows

(CNN)There is a simple reality that often seems lost on many inside the Beltway: The priorities of the mainstream media and Washington elites are not those of the American people.

If you've watched cable news any given day since President Donald Trump's inauguration, you've been subjected to near-hysterical coverage of the latest "scandal" that threatens to doom his presidency. You've probably seen pundits, analysts and politicians relentlessly deliver talking points on why Trump is unfit to be President -- or even why he should be impeached.

Yet here we are, six months into President Trump's term, and many Americans have grown weary of the constant media frenzy regarding his administration. And those who voted for the President continue to support him.

This principle might seem shocking to Washington, but average Americans -- many of whom I spoke with while campaigning for then candidate Trump -- will tell you that they could care less about the latest Washington cable news drama. Rather, what they care about are policies that impact their families, their pocket books and their everyday lives.

Political media and DC elites often forget that the average American family is struggling to save for the future -- and in fact almost half couldn't cover an unforeseen $400 expense. Despite the fact that millions of men and women across this country are working second and third jobs, they are struggling to feed their families.

Those Americans -- from Western North Carolina to Ohio to Pennsylvania to Michigan -- aren't focused on the latest breaking "news" on the Russia investigation. They care about seeing results and solutions that help their businesses survive -- and grow. They care about having access to high quality, affordable health care. They care about lower taxes that allow them to keep more of their paychecks. They care about the safety and security of their family.

And, in Washington, we have done an abysmal job of maintaining our primary focus on those issues. Passing important policy that impacts every day Americans requires consensus building, marketing our ideas to constituents through media and building coalitions of support. With the constant focus on Russia, big important policy items like tax reform have been stalled.

Now, make no mistake, it's critical that we not gloss over any potential wrongdoing in the Russia investigation. If there were improper activities, we need to get to the bottom of the issue -- and no one will be more committed to getting to the truth on a bipartisan basis than I will.

At the same time, congressional investigations have to follow a deliberative process that takes time. I've conducted oversight of government agencies and officials for the last five years as a member and a subcommittee chairman on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I've investigated cases ranging from the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal to the IRS targeting scandal to the Benghazi attack where Americans lost their lives.

In all of these cases, we had a deliberative process that spanned months -- and in some cases, years -- to collect proper evidence, interview key witnesses and see where the facts led. And, in some instances, the facts didn't lead anywhere, and the cases were dropped.

Congress has a duty to hold government officials accountable when necessary, but it is counterproductive for the media and some of my Democrat colleagues to throw unsubstantiated claims regarding White House officials against a wall repeatedly to see what sticks. Media and political hysterics work in opposition to -- not in favor of -- getting to truth and transparency.

Furthermore, while foreign interference in our election is something that our republic cannot and should not tolerate, it seems a bit ludicrous to suggest that tens of millions of Americans made a choice for president based on Russian influence. This is evidenced by the fact that President Trump continues to share the support of a plurality of Americans who believe they made the right choice for president -- because they voted for his agenda.

America must not tolerate Russian intervention in our elections, but we must also not perpetuate a narrative that suggests a far bigger role than any evidence has proven. Fueling exaggeration and constant hysteria is something that could unravel a democracy like ours. It's time we let the special counsel do his job and allow Congress to focus on actually on doing ours.

Let's also remember that through the frenzy, no formal charge has been leveled against anyone in the administration, no direct evidence uncovered and no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia confirmed. This is nothing warranting wall-to-wall speculation from the pundit class. The hysterics surrounding Russia merely serve to distract from accomplishing the priorities of the American people -- and for what, partisan gain?

There is real work to be done for the American people. Much of it can and should be possible to accomplish on a bipartisan basis. Now is not the time to circle the partisan wagons, but a time to deliver on the commitments we made to the American people. We need to deliver on undoing the harmful regulatory environment that stifles businesses, reforming the tax code to leave more money in the pockets of hard working Americans, replacing our broken health care system with one that will bring down premiums for American families and properly supporting our men and women in uniform.

It's time Congress and the media redirect their attention to those same principles. Let's focus on the American peoples' true priorities -- the Main Street issues that matter.

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