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 BurrStimulus bill to prohibit Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs Gaetz accuses Burr of 'screwing all Americans' with stock sale House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress 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 WarnerHillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks Senator sounds alarm on cyber threats to internet connectivity during coronavirus crisis Senator calls for cybersecurity review at health agencies after hacking incident 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 TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools 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 KingSenators offer bill to extend tax filing deadline Russia using coronavirus fears to spread misinformation in Western countries Hillicon Valley: House passes key surveillance bill | Paul, Lee urge Trump to kill FISA deal | White House seeks help from tech in coronavirus fight | Dem urges Pence to counter virus misinformation 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 WydenHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Senate Democrats vow to keep pushing for more funds for mail-in voting Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks MORE, have claimed that previously known reports about Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTwitter says coronavirus disinformation spread by Chinese officials does not violate rules Former lawyer for trophy hunting group joins Trump administration A rarely used fine could limit the spread of the coronavirus to the United States 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.