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House chairman apologizes to colleagues after Trump briefing

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. speaks with reporters outside the White House on Wednesday following a meeting with President Donald Trump.

Add ours to the growing list of voices calling for a special prosecutor, or special counsel, to probe ties between Russia and President Trump and Trump associates.

In an editorial earlier this month, we said we believed Congress capable of producing answers to Russia-Trump questions Americans deserve to have.

Emergence last week of a public, high-profile rift between Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee suggested otherwise.

Dissension within the committee followed the unusual, if not improper decision by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the committee chairman (who was, by the way, a member of Trump's transition team), to give Trump information about transition-related intelligence collection on Wednesday before he talked to his fellow committee members. According to reports, Nunes apologized to the committee on Thursday. On Friday, the partisan committee split widened over Nunes' cancellation of a public committee hearing, related to the panel's investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, planned for Tuesday.

What in the name of bipartisan independence is going on here?

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In our minds, the cloud produced by this dustup raises enough of a question about the ability of Congress to conduct a proper investigation to warrant something more. 

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In December, we called on then-President-elect Trump to support a congressional investigation into exactly what happened with respect to the charge of Russian involvement in the election for president. A CIA assessment concluded Russia employed computer hacking in an attempt to interfere with November's election. In the wake of subsequent events and reports, we said earlier this month we supported a broader congressional probe within this area, encompassing investigation of alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials before Trump's inauguration.

However, Congress is proving itself insufficient for the task, despite the fact troubling charges related to Russia shouldn't be viewed as a partisan matter. Regardless of political persuasion, all Americans should demand answers.

A CNN/ORC poll released earlier this month showed 65 percent of respondents believe a special prosecutor is necessary to get to the bottom of this story.

We now agree with them and urge the Justice Department to appoint one.

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