Top Dem: Trump slowing pace of Senate Intel probe

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Intelligence report warns of climate threats in all countries The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan Democrats feel high anxiety in Biden spending conflict MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blamed President Trump's unpredictable actions for slowing his panel's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

"I would have expected to have more of [the early investigative] work done, but who could have ever predicted that the president himself would have gone out and fired FBI Director [James] Comey, that he would be launching these, at least, rumors that he might be firing or potentially firing special prosecutor [Robert] Mueller," Warner said on MSNBC.

"That has actually taken time away from the further conversations with those Trump officials who may have been involved with the Russians," he added.

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Warner said that the Intelligence Committee is still in the "relatively early stages" of its investigation and is focused primarily on looking into Trump's associates and aides that may have had contacts with Russian officials.

But with Trump's abrupt decision in May to fire Comey, Warner said, the committee has had to turn its attention to understanding the president's motives for doing so, as well as the fraught relationship between Trump and Comey.

Speculation has also swirled that Trump is considering firing Mueller, who was appointed to lead the Justice Department's Russia investigation after Comey's termination. 

Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend and confidant, told reporters last week that Trump was thinking about ousting the special counsel, though White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week said that he had "no intention" of firing him.