Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr isn’t ready to conclude there’s been no collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Trump has been repeatedly citing the North Carolina Republican to make his case that no collusion occurred during the 2016 election, from Twitter to Fox News interviews to the Oval Office.
But Burr told CNN on Thursday that while the President is right that his committee has found no “hard evidence” of collusion, the investigation isn’t over.
“The President’s using a quote from three weeks ago, that you heard that I said we didn’t have any hard evidence,” Burr said. “That’s fine. But we have a lot of investigation left.”
Burr and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginian who’s the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, have been leading an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election that’s largely remained bipartisan. While they have issued findings on matters like election security and the intelligence community’s assessment, they still are working on the collusion element of the probe, which they’ve saved for last.
Burr had hoped to finish the investigation this year, but he’s acknowledged it won’t happen before the midterm elections, if not before the end of 2018, because the committee still has more witnesses to interview.
But Trump has seized on Burr’s comments in a September interview.
“Even Richard Burr, who is the highly respected senator in charge of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he just came out, said no, there has been no collusion,” Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning. “He sees, absolutely spending a year-and-a-half on this stuff, there is no collusion.”
Trump said something similar to New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi in the Oval Office earlier this week.
“By the way, I don’t know if you heard, Richard Burr just came out, he said, ‘No, we have found no collusion.’ He’s a judge at the Senate committee,” Trump said, though Burr is a senator, not a judge.
Trump also cited House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes for evidence that there was no collusion. Republicans on the House intelligence panel concluded in March that they had no evidence of collusion, but Democrats on the committee accused their Republican colleagues of not conducting a real investigation.
Trump’s comments on Burr stem from an interview that the senator gave to Fox News. But Burr also had made the distinction that the investigation wasn’t finished in that interview.
“I can say as it relates to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that we have no hard evidence of collusion. Now, we’re not over. That leaves the opportunity that we might find something that we don’t have today,” Burr said.
Trump took to Twitter that same morning to tout Burr’s Fox News interview. He again left out that the investigation was ongoing, tweeting only the first sentence of Burr’s quote.