All three members of Vermont's congressional delegation are calling for an investigation to look at possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence officials.
Sen. Patrick Leahy has joined with 10 other senators asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to review possible illegal collusion between Trump's campaign and representatives of the Russian government. The alleged contacts — first reported by the New York Times — reportedly took place during the 2016 presidential election and the weeks before the inauguration.
Leahy says it's critical to appoint an independent investigation to look into these allegations.
"You need somebody who can do a complete independent investigation away from the Congress that has excused too much of what's been done here,” Leahy said. "And to use an expression from a different time, 'What did the president know, and when did he know it?'"
Leahy says the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians is "frightening."
"I cannot think of as serious a situation since I've been in the Senate,” Leahy said. “The things that are coming through are just horribly frightening … But we've got to make sure it doesn't happen in the future."
And if the allegations are true, Leahy says there should be serious consequences.
“If they were in collusion with the Russians, then you have major crimes. Crimes that could even rise almost to the level of treason, and cannot be overlooked," he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders did not sign the letter sent by Leahy and the 10 other senators. But in a separate statement he called on the Senate Intelligence Committee to launch its own probe into these matters to determine if Russia coordinated with Trump and his campaign.
“The American people must have confidence that government decisions reflect their interests, not that of a foreign government,” Sanders wrote. “A robust investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee is critical to restoring that confidence."
Today I will be asking the Senate Intelligence Committee to thoroughly investigate if Russia coordinated with Trump and his campaign.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 15, 2017
Update 9:10 p.m. 3/15/17 This post was updated to include comments from an interview with Sen. Leahy.
Update 4:32 p.m. 3/16/17 Speaking on the House floor on Thursday, Rep. Peter Welch also called for a Congressional investigation into Trump's Russia ties.
"There is a mountain of evidence we cannot ignore," Welch said. "The enduring strength of our democracy is being tested. Congress must maintain our Constitutional protection of checks and balances."