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 McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit 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 BurrNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Senate Intel chairman: No need for committee to interview Bannon McConnell: Russia probe must stay bipartisan to be credible MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Dem lawmaker wants briefing on major chip vulnerabilities Week ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content MORE (D-Va.), the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“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 TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti 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 KushnerHope Hicks to meet with House Intel in Russia probe: report US officials warned Kushner about friendship with Wendi Deng Murdoch: report Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony House Intel Dem: Bannon asserted ‘very novel’ definition of executive privilege during testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members 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."