Top Senate Dem: ‘Grave concerns’ about independence of Russia probe

Top Senate Dem: ‘Grave concerns’ about independence of Russia probe
© Getty Images

The top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says he has “grave concerns” about the independence of an investigation into President Trump’s aides’ ties to Russia.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump Live video of New Zealand shooting puts tech on defensive The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE’s (D-Va.) comments Saturday came on the heels of news reports that the White House sought the help of senior intelligence officials and lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees to knock down news stories about Trump associates communicating with Russian officials during his 2016 presidential campaign.

“I have called Director Pompeo and Chairman Burr to express my grave concerns about what this means for the independence of this investigation and a bipartisan commitment to follow the facts, and to reinforce that I will not accept any process that is undermined by political interference,” Warner said in a statement, referring to CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP's Tillis comes under pressure for taking on Trump Warner says there are 'enormous amounts of evidence' suggesting Russia collusion McCarthy dismisses Democrat's plans: 'Show me where the president did anything to be impeached' MORE (R-N.C.), who chairs the Intelligence Committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

Warner also said he would consult with the other members of the Senate intelligence panel to ensure that its investigation was free of meddling or influence from the White House.

“It will be up to Republican leadership to demonstrate in the days ahead that they are capable of pursuing this investigation,” Warner said.

Both Warner and Burr said earlier this month that the intelligence committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s role in the election must also probe the reported contacts between Trump’s campaign aides and Russian officials.

Democrats and a few Republican lawmakers have called for the creation of a special committee to investigation Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as Trump’s potential ties to Moscow.

But GOP congressional leaders have largely dismissed that idea, arguing that existing committees are capable of handling the investigation.

“I have said from the very beginning of this matter that if SSCI cannot properly conduct an independent investigation, I will support empowering whoever can do it right,” Warner said.​