It is true that the intelligence committee probes are being conducted secretly, and there are no public hearings or actions to cover.... Still, in the past, pundits, politicians, and reporters in Washington have not been reluctant to go all-out in covering and commenting upon a controversy subjected to private investigation.In this instance, the president's own people may be under investigation, and Trump has demonstrated no interest in holding Putin accountable for messing with US elections in what may be considered an act of covert warfare. Still, there has been no loud demand from the DC media (or most of the GOP) for answers and explanations. This quietude is good news for Putin -- and reason for him to think he could get away with such an operation again.
For a while, it looked like the biggest political scandal in at least a generation. Russian officials, acting at Vladimir Putin's behest, intervened in the American presidential election, in order to put a pro-Russian candidate in the White House.As recently as Inauguration Day -- three weeks ago today -- we saw reports that a U.S. counter-intelligence investigation was ongoing, "examining intercepted communications and financial transactions" between Moscow and associates of Donald Trump."Trump's presidency was already dogged by questions of legitimacy given that nearly 3 million more Americans voted for his opponent, but the idea that a foreign adversary helped tip the scales in his direction raised the volume on those concerns. There was every reason to believe this scandal would help define Trump's time in office.And yet, the story has generally faded from front pages, replaced with other, newer Trump-related controversies, failures, and mistakes. Mother Jones' David Corn noted yesterday that we're talking about "the biggest election-related scandal since Watergate," but it's "largely disappeared from the political-media landscape."
It's a good point, though it's worth emphasizing that the story is far from finished -- and if Trump supporters are hoping the scandal has simply faded away, they're likely to be disappointed.Just this week, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reminded the political world of her interest. "I want to know what the Russians have on Donald Trump," she told NBC's Chuck Todd. "I think we have to have an investigation by the FBI into his financial, personal and political connections to Russia, and we want to see his tax returns, so we can have truth in the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump."On Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans have refused to even consider a select committee to uncover the facts, but the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating, and its House counterpart is doing the same. A Senate Judiciary Committee panel is also digging in, with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) moving forward with a probe of their own.In the meantime, Russia is taking steps that make it seem as if some in Putin's government believe the details in the now-infamous dossier may be true.The result is a dynamic in which facts are still coming together, quietly and out of the spotlight, while the rest of us wait. Developments related to the core scandal, such as Michael Flynn's communications with Russia, continue to percolate as well.The political world's discussion of the scandal has grown quiet, and the story has effectively disappeared from White House press briefings, which is a shame given the seriousness of the allegations and their implications. But for those still eager to know what happened, there's some comfort in knowing that multiple investigations are far from wrapping up.