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Rep. Quigley: House Investigation Into Russia, 2016 Election Interference Most Important Since Watergate

Illinois U.S. Representative Mike Quigley says Monday’s hearings are only the beginning of an investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Quigley, a Democrat, is the only Illinois lawmaker on the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His district includes parts of Chicago and the west suburbs.

“This is, in my mind, the most important thing I’ve ever worked on, and it’s probably the most important investigation the house has undertaken since Watergate,” Quigley said.

The hearings mark the first time FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Mike Rogers will publicly answer questions since President Trump has taken office.

“We’re hoping for a very fair, thorough, bipartisan, bicameral process that follows the facts wherever they take us, because the American public has an absolute right to know what has taken place,” Quigley said.

Quigley said there are four main issues the committee hopes to explore: Whether Russian activities were directed against the United States; whether those Russian measures involved links to President Trump; how the U.S. government can protect itself in the future; and how the intelligence community’s assessment of these issues were leaked.

He says he expects Democrats to be more concerned with how to avoid such potential attacks in the future, while Republicans will likely emphasize the importance of American intelligence leaks.

Because most intelligence meetings are almost always held in a classified setting, Quigley says Comey and Admiral Rogers will likely be reserved. “This won’t be as interesting as it would be if it were in closed session, but it’s still important,” he said.

Quigley said Comey is expected to address President Trump’s accusation that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.

“I have seen no evidence, I don’t expect to see any evidence. I do expect the director to comment on that. I think what you’ve seen here is a extraordinary, purposeful distraction. I don’t know what’s worse-- if the President lied about [wiretapping], or if he actually believes this,” Quigley said.

Quigley said to think of Monday’s hearing as a sort of pre-season game leading up to a long baseball season, an introduction into why these issues matter.

“This country, under the best of circumstances, is facing a tremendous amount of issues, challenges, and threats. And you need a President of the United States who is human enough to recognize how he should play a bigger role in that process,” Quigley said.

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