Politics & Government

Burr sets new goal for releasing Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation

The ongoing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia’s influence on American politics may come to an end this summer, said N.C. Sen. Richard Burr Monday.

Burr, the North Carolina Republican who co-chairs the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, told a small group of reporters in Durham that he hopes to release his committee’s report this summer before Congress recesses.

“I’d like to have the report out publicly before we leave in August. I’m on that timeline. I haven’t hit timelines in the past and, since we’re not finished, I can’t anticipate the date,” Burr said during a media briefing at Duke University before speaking at an event there.

Burr’s comments are his most recent forecast about his committee’s report.

The committee still has “several individuals” left to interview, he said. When interviews are over, Burr said the report will likely take 60 days to write and 60 days to redact and declassify. Rather than summarize for the public what the committee finds, Burr hopes the committee will “lay out the facts.”

However, Burr said those facts may be interpreted differently.

“Two people can read facts and possibly come to a different conclusion,” he said. “I think when we get through with our report, there won’t be any room for anybody to make these wild accusations about collusion.”

In his appearance at Duke, Burr reiterated many of the points he has made publicly and in a lengthy interview with CBS News that was published in February.

Burr reiterated that he hasn’t seen any proof that President Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government.

“If you take the Special Counsel’s conclusion — which is that there was no collusion that they could find evidence of between the campaign and Russians — it will probably be pretty consistent with the report we come out with,” he said.

Burr emphasized that his committee’s probe looks beyond the 2016 election into a vast, complicated effort by Russia to raise political tensions in the United States.

“One of the early determinations we made is that Russia manipulated the 2016 election using social media to create societal chaos in the United States,” he said. “They didn’t fabricate issues. They used existing splits in society in the United States and tried to highlight those splits.”

Burr also backed Attorney General William Barr’s interpretation of the report recently completed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but he said he hasn’t seen Mueller’s report.

Burr said Mueller’s report likely includes some information provided by the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said he would find it “strange” if Mueller’s report doesn’t reference “two interviews that we did.” He didn’t elaborate.

He noted that the committee’s staff wasn’t necessarily focusing on criminal acts. But when the committee’s investigators discovered actions that appeared to be criminal, Burr said, they referred them to the appropriate authorities. Burr said the committee has referred more than one, but less than 10 people for prosecution.

“Our function is not criminality,” he said. “When we identify something that we think is criminal, then we refer it to the appropriate person, whether that’s the Special Counsel, whether it’s the prosecutor in the District of Columbia or whether it’s the Southern District of New York. We look to see what the appropriate venue would be, and we have used that referral very aggressively.”

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