Skip to comments.Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel
Posted on 10/13/2018 9:47:17 AM PDT by yesthatjallen
The Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching a major decision point in its investigation into Russian election interference where lawmakers will weigh in on whether members of President Trumps campaign colluded with Moscow.
The question risks dividing a panel that has kept a bipartisan façade for nearly two years since the committee began its investigation. The final conclusion is sure to be a major flashpoint in a probe that has largely prodded along behind the scenes, as lawmakers and committee staff interview witnesses and prepare reports on their findings.
The notion of potential collusion has produced fractures in Washington that have only deepened as special counsel Robert Mueller has pressed forward with his Russia investigation, which runs parallel to the congressional probes.
The presidents critics have seized on revelations about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and longtime Trump associate Roger Stones links to WikiLeaks as indicators of collusion, while Trumps defenders have accused the FBI of exhibiting bias in its decision to open the federal investigation into Russian interference.
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) have gone to great lengths to keep their investigation bipartisan amid the rancor, in contrast to the now-defunct probe in the House.
Lawmakers have seemed to break along party lines when talking about evidence of collusion, though they have chosen their words carefully. Burr has said repeatedly that hes seen no definitive evidence of collusion, but he has also not ruled out that it could arise as the investigation continues.
I can say as it relates to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, that we have no hard evidence of collusion, Burr told Fox News in September. Now, were not over, and that leaves the opportunity that we might find something that we dont have today.
Trump seized on that quote as recently as Thursday, telling Fox News that it vindicates his claims that there was no collusion.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told The Hill Thursday he has seen no evidence of collusion, and that he hoped the question would not divide Republicans and Democrats on the panel as they seek to produce a report.
I really hope it doesnt, Lankford said. It shouldnt, because were all looking at the same facts.
Warner has said he will reserve his final judgment after all witnesses are interviewed on the collusion angle. Other Democrats have gone further; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has said that Donald Trump Jr.s communications about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting show an intent to collude. Still, none have publicly claimed to have seen evidence of collusion.
Sen. Angus King (Me.), the committees only independent member, on Thursday declined to comment on whether he had seen evidence of collusion but called that judgment the hard part of the investigation.
Im hoping we can finish by the end of the year, said King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. Weve pretty much completed the work on the social media part, and then after that is the hard part the collusion issue. And were working on it. Were interviewing witnesses, so were at it.
The investigation could ultimately fall victim to partisan divides, especially as Trump grows increasingly critical of the Mueller investigation.
A committee aide stressed that the goal from the start has been to issue one, single bipartisan report on the investigations findings.
The goal and operating assumption is that there will be one bipartisan report, the committee aide said. The committees investigation is fact-based and that has been the agreement from the chair and vice chair since the beginning.
The committee could issue a single, facts-only report from which members of each party would draw their own conclusions.
It appears less likely that Republicans and Democrats would ultimately issue two different reports on their findings.
It is possible that Republicans and Democrats could ultimately issue two different reports on their findings. The committee could also issue a single, facts-only report from which members of each party would draw their own conclusions.
The House Intelligence Committees investigation infamously plunged into partisan infighting, resulting in Republicans unilaterally voting to end it in March and releasing a report that found no evidence that the campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government. Democrats accused their GOP colleagues of shuttering the probe prematurely and pointed to ample evidence of collusion.
The investigation in the upper chamber has been markedly different, enjoying comparatively little media attention as a result of how little members have said publicly about the probe.
What weve seen, and the House side is a perfect example, is when theyre not working in tandem, you generally see indications of it, observed Steven Cash, a lawyer at Day Pitney and former Senate Intelligence Committee staff member. If youre looking for a bipartisan investigation, silence is golden, from the outside perspective.
The Senate panel upheld the intelligence communitys assessment that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump win, in a dramatic break with its House counterpart earlier this year. The committee has also released a report on election security, finding that Moscow conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against U.S. voting infrastructure.
The committee members are completing reports on Russias use of social media and the Obama administrations response to the meddling effort and continuing to interview witnesses, before moving to a judgment on collusion. Last week, Randy Credico, an associate of Stone, pleaded the fifth to avoid testifying. The committee has reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for an interview. Lawmakers have also signaled they want to bring Michael Cohen, Trumps former personal attorney, back for questioning.
Democrats have been pressing for future open hearings, but there have been no agreements reached.
Lawmakers say they hope to wrap up the investigation by the end of the year, though Burr and Warner have offered no definitive timeline on its completion. Burr said Thursday that the committee would go dark until after the November midterm elections, a decision that reflects lawmakers recognition of the sensitivity of the probe.
Its possible that the results of the midterms could change the landscape dramatically, putting Democrats in charge of the House and allowing them to revive the lower chambers Russia investigation. There is also the less likely prospect of Democrats retaking the Senate.
Weve gone dark until after the election, Burr told The Hill Thursday.
I think that we have a goal, but we have some people to work through, Burr said when asked for a timeline. As soon as we get through the election, well give everybody an update.
Still looking for the “collusion statute”. Buehler? Buehler?
Distrust of Leftist stooge RINO Burr is one of the main reasons Sen. Grassley has had the Judiciary Committee take the lead on exposing the coup.
Right. Burr is a tool for the Rats. Look for him to get out a Rat friendly report before the election.
an intent to collude.
Now they’re just making up crime sounding phrases.
What a carload of buffoons.
I thought the thread was going to be about voting to determine if there was collusion among the hearing senatorsw to produce and put forward a uniform front on the false Kavanaugh allegations.
There was absoute Senate collusion to kill the confirmnation
DC, lost in its own illusions and delusions. Consulting and colluding with magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, soothsayers and scribes rather than God (YHVH).
What a bunch of bullshiite
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