The Senate Intelligence Committee is reportedly nearing the end of its investigation into the 2016 presidential election, having found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina told CBS News late last week, “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.”
“We know we’re getting to the bottom of the barrel because there’re not new questions that we’re searching for answers to,” the Republican senator added.
“What I’m telling you is that I’m going to present, as best we can, the facts to you and to the American people,” Burr said. “And you’ll have to draw your own conclusion as to whether you think that, by whatever definition, that’s collusion.”
Intelligence Committee ranking member Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner disagrees with Burr’s characterization of the evidence the panel has unearthed, but declined to offer his own assessment regarding the issue of collusion, according to NBC News.
“I’m not going to get into any conclusions I have,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill, before adding that “there’s never been a campaign in American history … that people affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did.”
One example Democrats have pointed to is the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 between Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
In a July 2017 statement, Trump Jr. recounted that he agreed to take the meeting because the attorney was believed to have helpful opposition research regarding Hillary Clinton.
However, shortly into the meeting it became clear to him that she really wanted to talk about “the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act,” which imposed sanctions on Russia.
“(T)he claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Trump Jr. said. “I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office.”
NBC News reported that Democratic Senate investigators, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, did not dispute Burr’s characterization that that committee has found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,’” one Democratic aide said.
The Associated Press reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has interviewed more than 200 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents during the course of its 2016 election investigation.
At a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, President Donald Trump described special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as a “hoax” and “disgrace.”
“No president should have to go through what we’ve gone through in the first two years. It’s a hoax. It’s a disgrace,” the president said. “It should never be allowed to happen again.”
“The fact is that the real collusion was between Hillary and the Democrats and the other side with Russia. That’s where the collusion is.”
In his rally last night in El Paso, President Trump slammed the Mueller probe. pic.twitter.com/x9XoASSzIJ
— The Hill (@thehill) February 12, 2019
“Just recently as an example Sen. Richard Burr from the great state of North Carolina, he is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they’ve been investigating this Russia hoax for two years,” Trump said.
“They’ve interviewed over 200 people. They’ve studied hundreds of thousands of documents, and Richard just announced they’ve found no collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.
“The fact is that the real collusion was between Hillary and the Democrats and the other side with Russia,” Trump said. “That’s where the collusion is.”