Senate Intel Committee Chairman: No Conclusions Yet on Russia Collusion

Richard Burr
AP/Charles Dharapak

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said Tuesday the committee has no conclusions yet related to Russia collusion.

“We will continue to work towards conclusions related to any cooperation or collusion by any individual, campaign or company with efforts to influence the outcome of elections or to create societal chaos in the United States,” Burr said during the committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats.

The lack of conclusions come after more than a year of investigation, which began on January 23, 2016. Since then, the committee has conducted more than 100 interviews totaling 250-plus hours and 4,000 pages of transcripts, 11 hearings, and reviewing almost 100,000 pages of documents.

A spokeswoman for Burr indicated the committee was still in the fact-finding stage. “We aren’t making the conclusions before the facts are assembled. The Committee will continue to follow the facts where they lead,” she said.

One potential impediment is that the committee has not yet been able to bring Trump dossier author Christopher Steele before the committee, despite several attempts. Burr acknowledged in October the committee “hit a wall” in interviewing Steele, and that their offers to him “have gone unaccepted.”

“The committee cannot really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and sub-sources?” he said in October.

He also warned Steele to come before the committee, or face embarrassment, but it is not clear whether anything has been done in that regard.

“That will be… done in a very public way if in fact you turn down the private offer,” he had said in October.

It has recently come to light that Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) tried to use Washington lobbyist Adam Waldman to get Steele to come before the committee.

The relationship between Waldman and Steele has raised red flags, since Waldman also works for Russia aluminum oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is close to President Vladimir Putin and was engaged in a legal battle with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently sent a letter to a lawyer for Deripaska, asking whether Steele has ever worked for him.

If Steele, who runs a private business intelligence firm in London, has ever worked for Deripaska, it would raise questions as to whether he fed dirt to Steele for the dossier, particularly about Manafort.

Notably, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a member of the Intelligence Committee, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray whether Steele had ever worked for Deripaska.

Wray said it was not something he could answer, but said there was more that could be said during a classified hearing.

Also notable is that the rest of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation is moving along at a faster pace.

One part of the investigation is on election security. Burr said he hoped to have a public overview and hearing on recommendations before the primaries begin next month.

The committee also reviewed the intelligence committee’s assessment in December that the Russians meddled in the election to help Trump. Burr indicated that part was done, and that the review would be made public. He said in October that there was already “general consensus” that the committee trusted that assessment.

“We hope to report on what we found to support the findings, where it’s appropriate; to be critical, if in fact we saw areas that we fall — found came up short,” he said.

He also indicated the committee was done with the review of what was learned from Russia’s intrusions into the U.S. system, and the response. Burr said in October that the committee could certifiably say no vote totals were affected by Russian hacking during the election.

Burr gave no timeline as to when the collusion portion of the investigation would be finished.

“The committee will release findings on the final portion of the investigation at that date,” Burr’s spokesman said.



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