McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible

McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Ky.) says he wants to give the Senate Intelligence Committee as much time as possible to finish its investigation into Russian election meddling and stressed it must remain bipartisan.

Asked if he was worried about the probe stretching into the heart of next year’s campaign season, McConnell said, “I’d like to see them wrap it up when they finish.”

“I trust Sen. Burr and Sen. Warner to do our part,” he said referring to Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Conway blasts Brennan: 'Why is he screaming' about losing his clearance 'on a lower-rated cable network?' The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances Senate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan MORE (D-Va.), the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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“It’s not up to me to say when it’s over, it’s up to them to say when it’s over,” he said. “What I hope is that in the end we have a bipartisan report. If it’s purely partisan, I don’t think anyone will give it any credibility."

“I hope those guys can stay together and tell us what happened and what we need to do to prevent it from happening again,” he added.

McConnell spoke to reporters Friday in an end-of-year press conference touting Republican accomplishments in 2017. 

The New York Times reported in August that McConnell had a heated conversation with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE at the time in which the president expressed frustration with the leader for not doing more to shield him from the congressional probes.

Burr says the committee has dozens of interviews to conduct and on Thursday declined to provide an estimate about when it might wrap up its work.

“I think it’s impossible to guess but it’s clearly some time in the next calendar year,” Burr told The Hill.

Several witnesses are scheduled to be interviewed in January.

Warner says “principals” such as Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Justice Dept sues Ivanka’s former business partner in fraud case Connect Beltway to America to get federal criminal justice reform done MORE, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr.'s business trip to India cost taxpayers more than ,000: report San Francisco ethics official sues Secret Service over Trump Jr. trip to India Spicer slams Omarosa on WH recordings: 'She will do anything to further her own being' MORE will have to come back before the committee to answer questions. 

“[For] most members, Democrat and Republican, it will be hard for them to reach any final conclusions without being able to see some of the principals and obviously Mr. Kushner would fall in that category,” Warner said.

He would prefer those key witnesses testify in public.

Warner on Thursday said he has a great working relationship with Burr despite what he called a few “bumps” in the road. 

“We’ve really put some points on the board already,” he said at an event sponsored by Axios. “There is complete conclusion from everyone in government, with potentially the exception of the president, that Russians massively interfered in our elections in a coordinated way that was unprecedented."