Senate Intelligence Committee has ‘hit a wall’ in Russia probe

Senate Intelligence Committee has ‘hit a wall’ in Russia probe

The Senate Intelligence Committee has hit a wall on several key elements of its investigation into Russia’s campaign meddling, the panel’s leaders said Wednesday, even as they revealed little about their findings from months of digging.

“This is not something that we’ve closed,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chairman, told reporters.

“But we have exhausted every person that we can talk to get information that’s pertinent to us relative to the Russia investigation.”

Burr and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said they were running out of options for probing President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as a notorious intelligence dossier alleging collusion between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.

The panel has interviewed more than 100 witnesses, including former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents in the past nine months, Burr said.

The senators made clear that they are not done investigating those matters, but rather, are not able to uncover any new information now.

They have especially found trouble in trying to get Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who authored the unverified Trump dossier, to sit for an interview. The senators said they would compel Steele to testify publicly if he did not accept a standing offer for a private interview.

The intelligence committee is one of several congressional groups investigating Russia’s interference in the election, which has been extensively reported by the U.S. intelligence community. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also leading a federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s suspected collusion with the Kremlin.

Burr and Warner kept the details of their probe closely guarded, refusing to shed much light on what they have uncovered so far.

But the senators said Russia appeared to lead an unprecedented social media campaign to sow chaos among American voters — one that is still continuing and might run through the 2018 midterm elections.

“What I will confirm is that the Russian intelligence service is determined, clever, and I recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously as we move into this November’s election, and as we move into preparation for the 2018 election,” Burr said.

The panel is reviewing more than 3,000 Facebook ads linked to Russia that the social network turned over to Congress this week.

The senators said Russian hackers also tried to “test the vulnerability” of voting systems in at least 21 states. But it remains unclear if any attempted hacks were successful, and the senators said there is no evidence that vote tallies were affected.

Neither senator gave an indication of how much longer the investigation is expected to continue.

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