President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia, and how they could have impacted the election, was front and center as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee spoke this morning, and a Virginia Senator is leading the charge.
Interviews for the investigation aren’t set to kick off till early next week, but Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), promised a fair and thorough investigation.
“Today’s public hearing will help the American public understand how the Kremlin made effective use of its hacking skills to steal and weaponize information and engage in a coordinated effort to damage a particular candidate and to undermine public confidence in our democratic process,” said Warner in a prepared statement. “We simply must – and we will – get this right.”
Warner made no qualms about much of what we already know, noting the committee will “determine if there is an actual fire, but there is clearly a lot of smoke.”
He pointed a number of smoke singles which helped lead them into this mess in the first place (via Sen. Warner’s office):
· An individual associated with the Trump campaign accurately predicted the release of hacked emails weeks before it happened. This same individual also admits to being in contact with Guccifer 2.0, the Russian intelligence persona responsible for these cyber operations.
· The platform of one of our two major political parties was mysteriously watered-down in a way which promoted the interests of President Putin – and no one seems to be able to identify who directed that change in the platform.
· A campaign manager, who played such a critical role in electing the President, was forced to step down over his alleged ties to Russia and its associates.
· Since the election, we have seen the President’s national security advisor resign — and his Attorney General recuse himself — over previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian government.
· And, of course, on March 20th, the Director of the FBI publicly acknowledged that the Bureau is “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
“This is not innuendo or a false allegation. This is not fake news,” said the Senator. “This is what actually happened to us.”
While the Senate begins their search into the topic, the House’s version of the same investigation has already faced a number of public blunders.
First, Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed information supposedly confirming Trump’s campaign was inadvertently monitored by the FBI, a boon for Trump’s “wire tapping” claim despite both Nunes and the FBI saying otherwise. It was later revealed that Nunes could have received that information while at a secret meeting at the White House, putting the authenticity of the information in question.
This has pushed House Democrats to call for Nunes’s recusal from the investigation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling the Chairman “compromised” and a “stooge.” Nunes’s credibility has come under fire from members from his own party as well, with Moderate GOP member Rep. Charlie Dent suggesting the Senate’s investigation should be the more authoritative of the two.
“It is unfortunate we are where we are in the House,” Dent told CNN’s Newsroom. “It seems like there is not going to be a House report on intelligence, on the Russian meddling, so we have to turn our eyes to the Senate.”
Warner promised both public and private interviews in relation to the investigations, and there’s no real timeline so don’t get your hopes up for this being wrapped up quick, but you can watch some of today’s announcements in the video below: