Chuck Ross, DCNF
The top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence acknowledged in a recent interview that contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russians could be “a set of coincidences” rather than collusion.
“I’m reserving my final judgement until we’ve seen all the witnesses we need to see, and we’ve gotten all the facts. So I’m going to hold off,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in an interview with The New Yorker’s David Remnick when asked whether he believes that Trump associates conspired with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Warner and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chair of the Senate panel, have since Jan. 2017 led an investigation into Russian interference in the election.
Warner said that the committee is still receiving documents and information for the investigation. The panel is also still conducting interviews of Trump associates. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg is set to be interviewed this week.
“I’m not going to weigh in until we see everyone,” Warner said.
Remnick asked Warner whether he believes members of the campaign directly coordinated with Russians or, instead, whether Trump associates who met with Russians were merely “duped.”
“This may all be simply a set of coincidences or it may be … it was not the sophistication to realize what was happening,” said Warner.
The White House and members of the Trump campaign have vehemently denied coordinating with the Russian government, but several members of the campaign had contacts with Russians in the run-up to the election.
Campaign aides like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos met with Russian nationals at different points during the campaign. And Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort attended the infamous June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with a delegation of Russians after Trump Jr. was offered dirt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. has denied receiving any information on Clinton or of meeting again with the Russian attendees.
“I’m anxious for this to come to a conclusion,” Warner said of the investigation, adding that he is “hopeful” that the committee will be able to release sections of its final report every 30 to 45 days.
The committee plans to release four separate reports about various aspects of its investigation. The first, which dealt with election security, was released earlier this week.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has already released a report on its own Russia investigation. The report said that investigators found no evidence of collusion.