Russian Federation investigation: The 'collusion issue is still open', says Senate intelligence chairman

Niall Carson  PA Wire

Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, said that "the issue of collusion is still open" regarding the committee's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

"The Russian intelligence service is determined (and) clever, and I recommend every campaign and every election official take action", Burr said.

Burr and the committee's vice chairman, Sen.

Warner also said that the Russian intelligence service activities did not end with the USA presidential election on November 8 and that similar acts continued ahead of political elections in Montenegro, Belgium, France, and Germany.

The dossier accuses the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia, and it asserts that Russian intelligence agencies have information about Trump's participation in sexual escapades in Moscow, something Trump has denied.

"We have not come to any determination on collusion or Russia's preferences".

Despite more or less endorsing the January report, Burr at one point distanced his committee from on one of the report's key conclusions: that the Russian campaign was oriented towards discrediting Hillary Clinton and boosting Donald Trump. After initially saying their networks played only minor roles in Russia's disinformation campaigns, both companies are under pressure from the committees to provide more information about Russian-backed messages and ads that sought to pit Americans against each other before, during and after the election. "They were indiscriminate", Burr said.

Burr and the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Mark Warner, stressed the huge volume of material its staff had analysed, interviewing more than 100 people and assessing over 100,000 documents, and how much further there was to go.


"When we started nine months ago, I saw three buckets, and today, I talked about five or six", Chairman Richard Burr said during a status update on the probe.

US intelligence agencies concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the election to try to help Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton through a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and other propaganda efforts.

"We still believe there needs to be a more aggressive, whole of government approach", Warner said.

Burr said his committee had also "hit a wall" on the credibility of the "Steele dossier" - a private intelligence report written by former British spy Christopher Steele, who Burr said has refused to meet with the committee.

Trump was told by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey that Steele's report contained salacious material about the businessman-turned-president.

Burr said the panel wanted to finish its investigation by the end of the year.

He said that the "facts of Russia's involvement in the election" must be made public before the political campaigns begin for the November 2018 US general elections. Facebook surrendered the content of thousands of ads to Congress this week and it has acknowledged that some 10 million Americans may have seen them from 2015 to earlier this year.

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