Senate Intelligence chairman: No evidence of Trump-Russia collusion – POLITICO
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said Thursday that his committee’s Russia investigation has yet to find evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Kremlin but will soon release a report on the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference in the last presidential election.
In an interview with CBS published Thursday, Burr (R-N.C.) gave glimpses into the dynamics and scope of his committee’s probe, which was launched shortly before Trump’s 2017 inauguration and has now stretched into its third year. Burr told CBS that the committee staff has interviewed more than 200 witnesses from multiple countries and reviewed over 300,000 pages.
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“Based on the evidence to date,” Burr said, the committee could not definitively say there was collusion between Trump and the Russians.
“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” Burr told CBS.
Still, the senator said some questions raised over the investigation could occupy the committee “for the next decade,” and that portions of the final report could be so classified that they are never revealed to the public. Burr said his committee is “close to pushing out the door” a report on the Obama administration’s response to Russian election interference, a release that the chairman said could come within a “matter of weeks.”
Burr also described an environment of bipartisanship within the committee, which he oversees with Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.). Burr told CBS he found it difficult to believe the committee would splinter along partisan lines, as was the case in the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, which was shuttered by its then-GOP majority last year.
The House Intelligence Committee, now chaired by a Democrat, has announced plans to reopen and expand its Russia probe. That committee voted Wednesday to share interview transcripts with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, potentially to catch any additional witnesses who lied to the committee.
“If the committee’s driven based upon the facts that we have at hand, I have a very difficult time understanding how you can come to two different conclusions,” Burr said during the interview. “Unless, for the first time, you let politics come into play.”
“Now, we’re in Washington and so — anything can happen,” he cautioned.
The Senate committee’s investigation has gone on largely in the shadow of Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which the U.S. intelligence community has concluded was ordered from the top levels of the Kremlin and intended to aid Trump’s candidacy and hinder that of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Mueller’s team has made headlines by indicting a number of Trump associates for a litany of crimes, but Burr said his committee has also “not been shy” referring people for criminal prosecution and that the scope of the probe “gave us tremendous insight to know when somebody was lying to us.”
Trump condemned what he called “ridiculous partisan investigations” during his State of the Union address Tuesday — a comment that drew fierce backlash from Democrats who accused the president of attacking Congress’ constitutional oversight of the executive. Trump has repeatedly labeled the Mueller probe a “witch hunt” and has vehemently denied any collusion with Russia.
Trump lambasted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the House committee, telling reporters Wednesday at the White House that “he’s trying to build a name for himself. And I think that’s fine because that’s what they do. But there would be no reason to do that. No other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment. And it’s unfortunate. And it really does hurt our country.”