Se­na­tors: No lim­its to Rus­sia probe

The Dominion Post - - World -

UNITED STATES: The Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s in­quiry into Rus­sian in­volve­ment in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will be ‘‘one of the big­gest in­ves­ti­ga­tions’’ in years and has al­ready in­volved an ‘‘un­prece­dented’’ level of co-op­er­a­tion be­tween Congress and US spy agen­cies, the panel’s chair­man said yes­ter­day.

At a Capi­tol Hill news con­fer­ence, the com­mit­tee chair­man, Sen­a­tor Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, and its rank­ing Demo­crat, Sen. Mark R. Warner of Vir­ginia, em­pha­sised the bi­par­ti­san na­ture of the panel’s ef­forts, draw­ing a de­ter­mined, though un­stated, con­trast with the par­ti­san dys­func­tion of a par­al­lel in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the House. The two in­sisted the Se­nate com­mit­tee would carry out a full, un­fet­tered in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian ef­forts to in­flu­ence the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and any po­ten­tial ties to Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign. The com­mit­tee is sched­uled to hold a pub­lic hear­ing to­day, its first in the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

‘‘The com­mit­tee will go wher­ever the in­tel­li­gence leads us,’’ Burr said.

Burr point­edly re­fused to en­dorse White House state­ments that in­ves­ti­ga­tors even­tu­ally would find that there was no col­lu­sion be­tween the cam­paign and the Rus­sians. ’’It would be crazy to try to draw any con­clu­sions’’ at this point, Burr said. ‘‘We know that our chal­lenge is to an­swer that ques­tion to the Amer­i­can peo­ple,’’ he added, re­fer­ring to the is­sue of Trump’s in­volve­ment.

Warner praised Burr and said Amer­i­cans should ‘‘not lose sight of what the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is about: An out­side for­eign ad­ver­sary ef­fec­tively sought to hi­jack our most crit­i­cal demo­cratic process, the elec­tion for president,’’ and ‘‘favour one can­di­date over an­other.’’

‘‘They didn’t do it be­cause it was in the best in­ter­est of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,’’ Warner said. Rus­sian President ‘‘Vladimir Putin’s goal is a weaker United States.’’

The Rus­sian ac­tion ‘‘should be a con­cern to all Amer­i­cans re­gard­less of party af­fil­i­a­tion,’’ he added.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the House side has been stalled since the chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., can­celled a hear­ing that had been planned for Wed­nes­day at which for­mer Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Sally Yates was sched­uled to tes­tify.

In late Jan­uary, Yates had blown the whis­tle on re­tired Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Michael Flynn, who was Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser at the time. Yates told White House of­fi­cials that Flynn had mis­led his col­leagues, in­clud­ing Vice President Mike Pence, about his con­ver­sa­tions with Rus­sian Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak, of­fi­cials said.

Trump fired Flynn a few weeks later when news re­ports dis­closed the na­ture of his meet­ings with Kislyak. Yates’ al­lies said she had planned to give the com­mit­tee ad­di­tional de­tails re­lated to Flynn.

Nunes’ de­ci­sion to can­cel the hear­ing came af­ter a lawyer for Yates said in let­ters to the Jus­tice De­part­ment that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had tried to place ‘‘con­straints’’ on her tes­ti­mony by as­sert­ing her ac­tions as deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral were ‘‘client con­fi­dences’’ that could not be dis­closed with­out writ­ten ap­proval.

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said that the White House did not in­ter­fere with Yates’ plans to tes­tify and wanted her to speak pub­licly. - TNS

PHOTO: REUTERS

Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), left, and Sen­a­tor Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chair­man of the com­mit­tee, hold a news con­fer­ence to dis­cuss their probe of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.