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 BurrSenate GOP opens door to smaller coronavirus deal as talks lag Hillicon Valley: Google extending remote work policy through July 2021 | Intel community returns final Russia report to Senate committee after declassification | Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks Intel community returns final Russia report volume to Senate after declassification review 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 WarnerMini-exodus of Trump officials from Commerce to lobby on semiconductors Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Virginia governor, senators request CDC aid with coronavirus outbreak at immigrant detention facility 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 TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled 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 KingThe Susan Collins conundrum Trump ramps up China tensions with consulate shutdown Congress backs push for national cyber czar 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 WydenFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock MORE, have claimed that previously known reports about Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpTwitter limits Donald Trump Jr.'s account after sharing coronavirus disinformation South Dakota governor flew with Trump on Air Force One after being exposed to coronavirus: report Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle 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.