Senate intel committee head sees no evidence of Russian collusion, says probe ‘frustrating as hell’

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                <figcaption>The US Capitol building in Washington  / <span class="copyright">Reuters</span></figcaption>
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                        <strong>After 19 months of a “frustrating as hell’ probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee has found “no factual evidence” of the Trump campaign colluding with Moscow, the chairman, Richard Burr, says.</strong>

        Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), who heads the last bipartisan probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, shared in an interview with AP while there is <em>&ldquo;no factual evidence today that [it] received&rdquo;</em> on any collusion between President Donald Trump and Moscow after almost two years of the probe, the committee is not ready to end it. After all, he says he doesn&rsquo;t want to be the guy who missed something in the town where nothing <em>&ldquo;stays classified or secret forever.&rdquo;</em>

Burr would not give a timeline for the end of the investigation, and the committee wants to do some challenging interviews. It has recently requested that persecuted WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange testify before committee staff “at a mutually agreeable time and location.” Senators also want to talk to Christopher Steele, the author of the notorious dossier about Trump that turned out to be paid for by Democrats.

As for the other episode that the mainstream media and the ‘Resistance’ love to single out as proof of collusion (the Trump Tower meeting), Burr said that he sees no “reason today” to bring back Donald Trump Jr., who appeared before the committee in 2017, to testify about his short meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

So far, the work of the bipartisan probe has not been marred by tensions between Democrats and Republicans, as was the case with the probe in the House that ruled there was no collusion. The leading Democrat on the Senate committee, a known ‘Russiagater’ from Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner, expressed his confidence in Burr in May.

In July, the committee backed the conclusions of 2017 intelligence community assessment (ICA) that Russia meddled in the US presidential election, saying that it “believes the conclusions of the ICA are sound” and confirmed by “open source” information. 

The ICA document, released in January 2017, is long on faith and assertions and short on evidence. It stated that the key judgments made by the US intelligence community came from “a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behaviour.” It even devoted several pages to RT, focusing mainly on its output from 2012 as examples of Russian media influencing American voters in 2016. 

Back then, Assange slammed the report for its lack of sources. While the topic of Russia’s meddling in US affairs never seems to fade away, no solid facts have been presented so far. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations. “Until we see facts, everything else will be just blather,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. 

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