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Survey of Texas delegation finds few Republicans weighing in on Russia

The Tribune asked all 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation whether Congress is appropriately overseeing investigations into relationships between Russia and members of the Trump team.

Former FBI Director James Comey (l.) was fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey sent what was expected to be a relatively sleepy week in the nation's capital into a wild-eyed frenzy.

A succession of reports revealed a White House in chaos, Democratic indignation over Comey's ouster and Republican indignation over that indignation.

But the key concern on many minds is how the federal government should move forward on an investigation into the Russian cyberattack on last year's elections in this environment.

On Thursday, the Tribune asked all 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation the same questions we previously posed to them in February:

"Is Congress currently performing its appropriate oversight over the relationships between Russia and members of the Trump administration/transition/campaign and the potential ramifications on foreign policy? If not, what should Congress be doing that it currently is not?"  

Once again, most Texas Republicans declined to respond. Most Democrats did and argued that the only way to handle this dilemma is to kick an investigation to an outside special prosecutor or to create an independent commission like the 9/11 Commission that examined the failures of U.S. intelligence leading up to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. 

At the time of the previous survey, there was debate over whether House and Senate Intelligence Committees were capable of launching adequate investigations or whether the GOP leaders of those committees would even be willing to subpoena key players. 

But in the weeks that followed, the congressional investigations did move forward, and the public learned a great deal as a result – including that the FBI is investigating whether Trump associates had ties with Russian intelligence. 

But even as those investigations picked up steam, there was drama and acknowledgments that the U.S. Congress lacks the investigative manpower of the executive branch. 

As the Comey firing came down on Tuesday afternoon, reports indicated the president believes that federal law enforcement officials at the the Department of Justice should be personally loyal to him, shining an even brighter spotlight on Congress' oversight role over the executive branch. 

Several Texas Republicans who did respond to the Tribune's query counseled to let the congressional committees complete their work, in a vote of confidence for the new lead House GOP investigator, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway. The Midland Republican has done much to calm the waters with Democrats after U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California left that post in a storm of controversy. 

But for the most part, Texas Republicans declined to weigh in on the issue consuming Congress. But it is unlikely that this one will go away.

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