Democrats on the Senate panel investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia are signaling they continue to support the committee’s probe despite concerns about Chairman Richard Burr’s recent reported behavior — for now.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Democratic members met behind closed doors Monday evening amid an outcry over Friday’s revelation that Burr (R-N.C.) helped the White House knock down negative news stories about the issue.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s top Democrat, indicated as he left the meeting that while he was not happy with Burr’s behavior, he planned to continue backing the committee investigation, as opposed to an investigation by a select committee or independent commission.
“The challenge with some of these other plans — it would simply mean months and months of delay before you could find some other form and bring people up to speed on the information that is critical,” Warner told reporters. “The most important thing is timely continued access.”
He reiterated that the probe must be done “independently” and that “we’ve got to follow the truth.”
Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, echoed Warner’s remarks, saying that while he has “concerns,” he continues to support the committee probe.
“I have confidence that the committee can carry out these responsibilities in a forthright and nonpartisan way,” the Maine senator said. “If I lose that confidence, I’ll be the first to say so.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, meanwhile, said Burr’s reported actions, if accurate, raise “troubling questions about whether the traditional firewall between an investigative committee and the people being investigated, the press, is in place.”
“I’m not going to speculate about committee deliberations but if these reports are true then the public is going to question whether there’s going to be an impartial inquiry, and I think that will generate real support for some kind of independent commission,” the Oregon Democrat said. He declined to comment on whether Democrats on the Intelligence Committee have confirmed independently whether the reports were accurate.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he maintains confidence in Burr but still wants a separate select committee to investigate Russia’s election meddling.
“I said we need an independent investigation on the Russian interference in our elections,” the Arizona Republican said Monday.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.