WASHINGTON– The Senate Intelligence Committee promised Wednesday that their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will be unprecedented in scope.
“This was one of the biggest investigations that the hill has seen in my tenure here,” said committee chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) at a news conference Wednesday.
Speaking alongside ranking member Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)., Burr said the committee has employed seven full-time staffers to review pertinent evidence related to the investigation and that 20 witnesses have been asked to testify.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close confidant Jared Kushner has volunteered to appear before the committee, an offer that the Senators have accepted.
Kushner’s testimony has not yet been scheduled but will be once appropriate, Burr said.
“The committee will conduct an interview with Mr. Kushner when the committee decides that its time for us to set a date because we know exactly the scope of what needs to be asked of Mr. Kushner,” Burr explained.
Burr suggested that former White House National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have been included among those who had been asked to testify.
“It would be safe to say we have had conversations with a lot of people, and it would be safe to say Gen Flynn is a part of that list,” he said.
Warner brushed off a questions over whether the committee had discovered any evidence suggesting that members of the Trump campaign had colluded with high-ranking Russian officials.
“We would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation,” he said.
Warner also said that reports suggesting the White House had tried to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the committee are false.
The image put forward by Burr and Warner stands in stark contrast to the public infighting that has plagued the House Intelligence Committee in light of actions by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), its chairman.
Nunes last week held a press conference in which he announced that he had been given information suggesting the Trump campaign had been placed under electronic surveillance during the transition period.
Nunes then traveled to the White House and briefed President Trump about the information.
Both briefings took place before Nunes had spoken with members of his committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s vice chair, urged Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after it was revealed that the chair had received his information while on White House grounds, raising further questions over whether or not Nunes could oversee a credible investigation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have also asked Nunes to step aside while Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) on Tuesday called on Nunes to either reveal how he obtained information about the alleged surveillance or to withdraw from the investigation.
Burr said that the Senate investigation is completely separate from the House investigation and he warned reporters at the beginning of the news conference that questions related to that investigation would not be answered.