Question Still 'Open' About US Collusion With Russian Influence Campaign


Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election 5 senators call for United States to shutter embassy in Havana MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the panel, said during a press conference.

"We will come out with a finding at some point", Burr promised, noting that while there's no artificial timetable to release a committee conclusion he and Warner both want a publicly available report out prior to primaries getting started for 2018.

Three congressional panels and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating Russia's meddling in the election and possible collusion.

While Burr sidestepped questions about whether the Russians were trying to help Trump, one of the conclusions the intelligence community found, he warned that the efforts to interfere are still ongoing and must be addressed ahead of the next round of USA elections later this year and in 2018.

Russian Federation interfered during the 2016 election and is likely to do so again in 2018 midterm elections, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday. In some areas of the investigation, Burr added, investigators had "exhausted every individual" they could speak with in several areas of the probe - such as an April 2016 meeting at the Mayflower hotel.

"Let us go through that process", Burr said.

According to a dossier authored by a former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, Trump campaign officials worked hand-in-glove with Kremlin operatives.

"The issue of collusion is still open", the committee's Republican chairman, Richard Burr of North Carolina, told a room full of reporters in the Capitol.

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While Trump's defenders have dismissed the Steele dossier as a politically-motivated smear, Burr indicated that his committee is still working to evaluate its claims and has not dismissed it outright.

Burr said the "general consensus" of those involved with the Russian investigation, they "trust the conclusions" of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).

"The overall theme of the Russian involvement in the USA elections was to create chaos at every level", he said.

Burr also commented Wednesday on reports from this summer that members of the Trump campaign worked to soften the Republican platform's posture toward Russian Federation, scaling back language related to giving Ukraine lethal defensive aid.

One witness the lawmakers say they've been unable to question is Christopher Steele, a former British spy believed to have compiled a dossier of allegations about Trump connections to Russian Federation.

"The Senate Intelligence Committee does not release documents provided by witnesses, companies - whoever, whatever the classification, it's not a practice that we're going to get into", Burr said, echoing similar comments he had made previously.

"The committee can not really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like: Who paid for it?"

Those already interviewed include the president's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and social media executives such as officials from Twitter Inc.

Facebook on Monday provided Congress with copies of the 3,000 Russian-linked election ads it identified, as well as data including where the ads were targeted. Google and Twitter have also been invited to testify.