Top Republican: Senate panel not ready to wrap up Russia probe

Top Republican: Senate panel not ready to wrap up Russia probe
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrKey House Dem's objections stall intel bill as deadline looms Trump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, says his panel is not ready to wrap up its investigation.

“The worst thing we can do is to prematurely try to end” the probe, Burr said in an interview with The Associated Press published Friday.

“At some point somebody’s going to go back and do a review. And I’d love not to be the one that chaired the committee when somebody says, ‘well, boy, you missed this.’ So we’ve tried to be pretty thorough in how we’ve done it,” he said.

Burr refused to give a timeline for the investigation’s end or a final report, saying there are multiple people he still wants to interview, some for the first time and some for follow-up meetings. 

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The GOP chairman had predicted months ago that the Intelligence Committee would begin to wrap up its investigation by August, when the Senate leaves for a monthlong recess. He had previously estimated that it would be done by December 2017.

Still, Burr has declined to commit to holding any more public hearings in the committee's probe, telling the AP that the panel still plans to interview at least a handful of people behind closed doors.

“If the intent is to have a show trial, I’m not a participant,” Burr said.

Burr has worked with Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerKey House Dem's objections stall intel bill as deadline looms Russia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless MORE (Va.), the panel's top Democrat, to avoid the public acrimony that plagued the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe, which ended earlier this year over the objections of Democrats.

The House investigation ended in controversy after a report, written by the Republican majority, stated there was no collusion between President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's campaign and Russia. Democrats cried foul, arguing there was still investigating left to do.

The Senate probe has continued while the sprawling independent special counsel probe led by Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has pursued indictments or plea agreements against several former Trump campaign officials and a number of Russian nationals and groups.

Trump and his personal lawyers including Rudy Giuliani have publicly attacked the Mueller probe and called for it to immediately wrap up. Giuliani has called for Mueller to finish the probe and submit his final report by early September.

While the Senate investigation has largely stayed above the partisan infighting that plagued the House panel, Burr said he is not blind to the fact that the committee’s final findings may split members along party lines. 

“I am sure there will be people at the end of this who feel that we came to a conclusion that they vehemently disagree with,” Burr said. “I know that from a committee’s integrity standpoint we’ve got to prove what we find. And if you can’t prove it then we can’t make the claim."