Contradicting what the White House press secretary said on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he can’t rule out collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russians seeking to disrupt the 2016 election.
Sen. Richard Burr said it’s too early in the Intelligence Committee’s investigation to draw any conclusions.
“It would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation,” he said during a Wednesday press conference with Sen. Mark Warner, the lead Democrat on the committee. “I think Mark and I have committed to let this process go through before we form any opinions.”
Burr continued: “As much as we’d like to share minute by minute, even the snapshots we get as a team going through it are not always accurate when we find the next piece of intelligence. So let us get a little deeper into it before you ask us to write the conclusions.”
This runs contrary to something White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday.
“Every single person who has been briefed on this situation with respect to the situation with Russia — Republican, Democrat, Obama-appointee, career — have all come to the same conclusion,” Spicer said in response to a question from reporter April Ryan. “At some point, April, you’re going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer, with respect to whether or not there was collusion.”
But it appears that it’s a bit too early for answers on the question of whether any of Trump’s associates colluded with Russians in an attempt to affect the outcome of the presidential election.
Burr also emphasised that he was running an impartial investigation despite his ties to Trump. Burr advised the Trump campaign on national security.
“I’ll do something I’ve never done. I’ll admit that I voted for him,” Burr said, referring to Trump. “… But I’ve got a job in the United States Senate. And I take that job extremely serious. It overrides any personal beliefs that I have or loyalties that I might have.”
Warner joined in, saying he’s confident that he and Burr can carry out an effective investigation.
“I have confidence in Richard Burr that we together, with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Burr and Warner’s joint press conference came amid turmoil on the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating the Trump team’s ties to Russia.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, held dueling press conferences on Friday to discuss their investigations. The committee now seems divided on investigations into wiretapping of Trump Tower and Trump’s associates’ Russia connections.
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