Political theater

Some members of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee made it clear Wednesday they are less interested in learning the truth than in political theater.

Members of the panel spent much of the day questioning witnesses regarding a probe of the Russian government’s attempts to influence the presidential election last fall. There have been allegations that some in President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

There also have been claims that Trump attempted to persuade some officials to call off the investigation.

Two of the men he would have had to convince to do that, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, testified before the committee on Wednesday.

During his three years as NSA head, “I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my recollection … I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so,” Rogers testified.

“I’ve never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats responded to one question.

But some on the committee keep pressing, asking questions Rogers and Coats would not answer in a public meeting. Such refusals by intelligence officials are not uncommon — simply because they do not want to make public sensitive information that might aid our enemies.

In reality, Coats did not refuse to answer the questions. “…I am more than willing to sit before this committee … in a closed session and answer your questions,” he said.

Not good enough for some committee members, who no doubt will claim Rogers and Coats are part of a coverup. Never mind that the two agreed to do what the senators want — provide information, as long as the senators keep national secrets confidential.

Using committee hearings to score political points is nothing new in Congress. Neither, sadly, is twisting the truth.

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