Editorial: Russian to judgment

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Last week, Jordan Green wondered if Sen. Richard Burr was suited to lead the investigation into Russian ties with President Donald Trump and members of his staff.

Our senior editor wondered, given the surfeit of evidence pointing to a strange sort of collusion between the Trump camp and Russian agents and Burr’s absolute silence on the issue, if the senior senator from North Carolina might be tempted to put his party before his constituency.

It took two days for a more definitive read on the situation. On Feb. 24 , the Washington Post reported that Sen. Burr, among other senior members of the Senate, had communicated through back channels with journalists in an effort to refute stories run by the New York Times and CNN connecting members of the administration to the Russian government and its agents.

We are judging Burr not by his words but by his actions, which from this angle look an awful lot like he’s trying to steer this thing into the ground.

We now stand with the News & Observer, the News & Record and every other newspaper that has demanded that Burr recuse himself from the Senate investigation into our president’s ties with our historical rival.

We’re stuck with Burr until his term expires in 2022. The senator was re-elected by more than 6 points in November — a larger margin than Trump in the presidential race or Cooper in the governor’s race — in a statewide election that cannot be blamed on gerrymandering.

Until then, we advise our senator to remember the people in his home state, the ones who sent him to Washington, who will not tolerate even the appearance of impropriety when it comes to what looks like the heaviest accusation ever leveled at an administration in our country’s history.

We are judging him not by his words — which seem scripted to carefully avoid saying anything of substance on Russia or President Vladimir Putin — but by his actions, which from this angle look an awful lot like he’s trying to steer this thing into the ground.

In this way Burr brings even more shame to his home state, which has already suffered the indignities of the state General Assembly including HB 2 and attacks on public education.

We deserve better, Sen. Burr. But until that person comes along, kindly step out of the way and let whatever real Americans are left run the Senate and its investigation into possible Russian ties. Your constituents demand it.