Rep. Mike Conaway, New GOP Chair Of The House “Russian Interference” Investigation, Calls Russia “A Partner”

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), the newly named chair of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation on alleged “Russian interference,” said Thursday that he favors closer cooperation with Russia in Syria. “We need Russia’s help in dealing with Assad,” he told me, and he further called Russia “a partner.” (See full video…)

Conaway’s comments also indicated that Trump’s recent rapid-fire fluctuations on foreign policy matters—namely with respect to Syria — aren’t easily-interpretable even to leading congressional Republicans.

In September 2013, when President Obama proposed to strike Syrian government targets in the aftermath of a purported chemical weapons attack by Assad, Conaway expressed reservations and skepticism, lamenting that Obama had “not yet presented a plan,” and that “the people of Texas’ 11th congressional district aren’t persuaded” about the rationale for strikes that’d been presented.

Conaway’s tone this time around is different. Despite serving on the House Armed Services committee, he’s not yet released any kind of formal statement in reaction to Trump’s missile strikes — which weren’t accompanied even with the pretense of a “plan” or a clear idea of what tactical advantage would be gained by bombing a Syrian government airfield. (The very same airfield was quickly used again by Assad’s forces to launch further attacks.)

What’s the difference between Obama’s 2013 proposal to attack Syria, which Conaway bristled at, and Trump’s 2017 strikes, which Conaway seems to favor? I asked him just that question twice during a series of town hall meetings he held in his West Texas district. Both times, Conaway avoided the question, once saying that he “[doesn’t] remember” the 2013 events.

Asked whether the tactic of pursuing “regime change” in the Middle East — which now appears to be the policy of the Trump administration vis-a-vis Assad — Conaway said: “It hasn’t been very effective so far.”

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