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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 McConnellGraham backs bill to protect Mueller Grassley defends acting AG against calls for recusal Former staffers push Congress for action on sexual harassment measure 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 BurrSenate panel seeks interview with Steve Bannon, lawyer says Dems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Warner 'disappointed' in how Trump replaced Sessions Warner expresses concerns over potential future election meddling 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 TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat 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 KushnerTrump eyes post-midterm shakeup Congress braces for high-drama lame duck Trump’s tough-love policy for China MORE, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpMueller targets Stone in final push Robert De Niro says goodbye to ‘Jeff Sessions’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures 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."