Contradicting what the White House press secretary said on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he couldn’t rule out collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russians seeking to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Sen. Richard Burr on Wednesday said it was too early in the committee’s investigation to know whether the two parties colluded.
“It would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation,” he said during a press conference with Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s ranking member. “I think Mark and I have committed to let this process go through before we form any opinions.
“As much as we’d like to share minute by minute, even the snapshots we get as a team going through it are not always accurate when we find the next piece of intelligence,” Burr continued. “So let us get a little deeper into it before you ask us to write the conclusions.”
This runs contrary to something White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday.
“Every single person who has been briefed on this situation with respect to the situation with Russia – Republican, Democrat, Obama appointee, career – have all come to the same conclusion,” Spicer said in response to a question from April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks. “At some point, April, you’re going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer, with respect to whether or not there was collusion.”
Burr, who had advised the Trump campaign on national security, emphasized he was running an impartial investigation despite his ties to Trump.
“I’ll do something I’ve never done: I’ll admit that I voted for him,” Burr said, referring to Trump. “But I’ve got a job in the United States Senate. And I take that job extremely serious. It overrides any personal beliefs that I have or loyalties that I might have.”
Warner said he was confident that he and Burr could carry out an effective investigation.
“I have confidence in Richard Burr that we, together, with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Burr and Warner’s joint press conference comes amid turmoil in the House Intelligence Committee, which is separately investigating Trump’s team’s ties to Russia.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member, held dueling press conferences on Friday to discuss the committee’s investigations. The committee now seems divided on investigating any wiretapping of Trump Tower and connections between Trump’s associates and Russia.