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 McConnellMcConnell sees Ohio in play as confidence about midterms grows   Giuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending 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 BurrConservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Senate confirms Haspel to head CIA The Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal Giuliani: Trump asked White House lawyer to go to Russia briefings Top Intel Dems denounce presence of Trump lawyer at classified briefings 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 TrumpTrump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Ivanka Trump to campaign for Devin Nunes in California 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 KushnerChristie blocks release of correspondence with Kushner Companies The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal Director of federal prisons resigns after clashes with Kushner, Sessions: report MORE, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpPro-hunting Trump officials take ax to wildlife protections FBI obtained wiretap conversations of Kremlin-linked banker who met with Trump Jr: report Trump Jr.: Instagram warning says my name encourages harmful behavior 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."