GOP presses ahead after election with Russia probe review

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., questions former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, on a probe of the FBI's Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump may have lost his bid for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped Senate Republicans from pressing forward with their politically charged probe of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

The latest burst of activity came Tuesday when the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee grilled former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about an investigation that was begun even before the 2016 presidential election.

The hearing made clear that the election results have not cooled the Republican determination to continue congressional investigations that have been cheered on by Trump, who tweeted an attack on McCabe just minutes after the hearing began. Though most congressional Republicans haven't acknowledged Trump’s loss, the Russia probe and similar political inquiries in line with Trump's interests give them continued lines of attack if they keep control of the Senate with Democrat Joe Biden in the White House.

Democrats lamented that the committee was occupied by events from four years ago and focusing not on last week's election but rather the one from 2016.

“This is a last ditch, desperate undertaking to deal with President Trump’s grievances about that election,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said of the hearing.

Democrats suggested that the committee's time would be better spent discussing a new memo from Attorney General William Barr that authorized prosecutors to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they exist, before the election is certified, even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

“This kind of scare-mongering is no substitute for the truth,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. “The fact is the votes have been counted and some are being counted, and they have shown and will continue to confirm that former Vice President Biden is in fact our president-elect.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee chairman, repeated many of the familiar attacks on the investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. Those include pejorative text messages about Trump sent by former FBI employees who were involved in the Russia investigation, mistakes and omissions in applications to secretly wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser and the FBI questioning of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.