Senate Russia Probe Uncovering ‘Something Larger, More Nefarious’ Than 2016 Collusion, Committee Chair Says

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Numerous media outlets have repeatedly reported that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election will end soon. But Mueller continues his probe nonetheless, as the Washington Post has noted.

But regardless of when Mueller ends his work, the Senate’s own, separate Russia investigation remains not just months but years from wrapping up — and is uncovering “something larger, more complicated and, from a counterintelligence perspective, more nefarious” than anything that happened in the 2016 election alone, according to a CBS News interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Chair Richard Burr, a third-term Republican from North Carolina.

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation could extend “for the next decade,” Burr told CBS, and stretches far beyond any interference by Russia in the 2016 election, adding that the committee’s staff has gained access to highly classified intelligence documents that “gave us tremendous insight to know when somebody was lying to us.”

While Burr would not tell CBS how many, he said that the committee has “not been shy” about referring witnesses who have lied to the committee for criminal prosecution.

The committee continues to uncover a vast plot by Russia, and its findings have “helped even our intelligence community’s understanding of Russia’s capabilities and intent behind this,” Burr said. “This was not, ‘Let’s go screw with the Americans in 2016.'”

Richard Burr speaks to reporters.
Republican Senate Committee Chair Richard Burr.Featured image credit: Aaron P. BernsteinGetty Images

Burr himself was a vocal Trump supporter in 2016 and joined Trump’s campaign as a national security adviser in October of that year, according to Politico. During his 2016 Senate reelection campaign, Burr assured voters that they would find no “separation” between Trump and himself.

Since Trump’s election, Burr’s voting record indeed shows that there has been little “separation” from Trump, despite Burr’s spearheading of his committee’s Russia investigation. According to statistics compiled by FiveThirtyEight.com, out of all 100 senators, Burr has been the 10th-most friendly to Trump when it comes to voting in favor of Trump’s political agenda.

Burr’s support for Trump is seemingly reflected in his assertion that his committee has not yet found evidence that would indicate “collusion” between Trump and Russia, but he also appeared to leave the question open for future findings.

“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,” Burr said.

While Burr’s Democratic vice chair, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, declined to comment on Burr’s statement, according to Reuters, Warner has earlier said, according to the Hill, that Trump’s 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort “clearly…was trying to collude with Russian agents and the question is, what did the president know?”