Senate Intel chair: Panel’s Russia probe will extend into 2019

Senate Intel chair: Panel’s Russia probe will extend into 2019
© Greg Nash

The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference will extend into 2019, the panel's chairman says.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders mounts staunch defense of 'Medicare for All' | Biden, Sanders fight over health care heats up | House votes to repeal ObamaCare 'Cadillac Tax' | Dems want details on fetal tissue research ban Top North Carolina newspapers editorial board to GOP: 'Are you OK with a racist president?' Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-N.C.) told Bloomberg News in an interview published Friday that the committee expects to continue interviewing witnesses next year behind closed doors.

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When asked how long the committee will take to issue a report once interviews are concluded, Burr said that as many as “six months" could elapse while warning that future testimony by committee witnesses will likely be private.

The Senate committee's top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerEquifax breach settlement sparks criticism Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties MORE (Va.), concurred with Burr in telling Bloomberg that the probe would likely not wrap up anytime soon, though he has been pushing for more public proceedings.

"I don’t see the need for public hearings," Burr said. "I don’t see that happening."

President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE has long signaled impatience with the investigations into Russia's election meddling and pushed for them to be wrapped up as soon as possible.

Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Senate panel advances Pentagon chief, Joint Chiefs chairman nominees MORE (I-Maine), a member of the Intelligence panel, said last month that he hoped the probe would conclude by the end of 2018, though such a prospect now appears unlikely.

“I’m hoping we can finish by the end of the year,” said King, who caucuses with Democrats. “We’ve pretty much completed the work on the social media part, and then after that is the hard part — the collusion issue. And we’re working on it. We’re interviewing witnesses, so we’re at it.”

Questions over whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia knowingly during the 2016 election are likely to divide the panel, which has so far remained largely collegiate and bipartisan, compared to the partisan rancor that divided members of the committee's House counterpart.

Several Democratic senators, including Oregon Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBarr warns encryption allows 'criminals to operate with impunity' Grassley, Wyden reach deal to lower drug prices Tech critics on both sides have it wrong: Section 230 is not a special privilege MORE, have claimed that previously known reports about Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump store sells more than 140,000 plastic straws in dig at 'liberal paper straws' Trump Jr., Guilfoyle raise .5 million on California swing for Trump campaign Trump Jr.'s book, 'Triggered,' to be published in November MORE's meeting with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin during the campaign shows “an intent to collude,” though Democrats have hesitated to say that they have seen evidence of collusion.

Trump has largely dismissed the congressional and special counsel investigations into Russia's election interference as "witch hunts" despite several former high-ranking members of his campaign falling under criminal indictment.