About a month ago, we posted that employers could take some lessons from the investigation into President Trump’s claims that he was illegally wiretapped by the Obama Administration. This investigation still proves to be a cautionary tale for employers.
One of the key, and sometimes difficult, decisions in any investigation is who should conduct the investigation. Should the investigation be done by HR or an executive in the Company? Or should the investigation be conducted by an outside third party?
What may have gotten lost in last week’s news of the bombing in Syria is the fact that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has recused himself from the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the election. This news came after Nunes was criticized for speaking publicly about classified surveillance reports that seemingly gave support to President Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped.
Why the criticism? Well, because before Nunes disclosed the evidence to his fellow members of the committee, he briefed the White House on what he found. As anger grew over this breach of protocol and the fact that it lent credibility to claims that the investigation was biased, it was discovered that he had in fact reviewed the documents in question at the White House.
Now that he has recused himself in the face of ethics charges filed against him for his actions, the question remains whether anyone on the outside will believe that the new lead, Representative K. Michael Conway (R-Tex.) will conduct an impartial investigation.
Employers should take note that the perception of impartiality is key to a good investigation. In this case, regardless of whether Nunes could be impartial if presented with evidence of ties to the Trump campaign and the Russian hackers, by so publicly rushing to the defense of the President and his team before any investigation was complete, he tanked the investigation. Employers should be careful to select an investigator that can be seen as impartial and not favoring the accused in the investigation.