politics

Russia Probes Wouldn’t Expand If Democrats Win Congress, Warner Says

  • Top Intelligence Committee Democrat cites partisan pressures
  • Americans ‘will be tired’ if inquiries go into next year
Trump Counters Mueller Probe With Stepped Up Attacks

The top Democrat working on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe doesn’t see his party ramping up investigations into Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election should they win control of Congress in November elections.

Americans “will be tired of it if this is not wound down in this calendar year,” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said Wednesday at the Recode Code Conference in California.

Warner said members on the panel are being pushed in different directions: Republicans to end the probe and Democrats to conclude there was collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“There’s enormous pressure on some of the Republicans to say, ‘Hey, you know, it’s time to get this thing over, let’s shut it down,’” Warner said. “On the other hand, on the Democratic side there’s a lot of pressure to say ‘Hey, you know, of course there is collusion, call this guy out as guilty tomorrow, don’t wait for the process to finish.”’

While the House Intelligence Committee has fractured along partisan lines, ending its investigation by issuing conflicting reports, Warner and Senator Richard Burr, the Senate committee’s Republican chairman, have maintained a bipartisan effort.

Trump has repeatedly referred to investigations of collusion between Russia and his campaign as a “witch hunt” and tweeted his regret Wednesday for appointing Jeff Sessions as attorney general because he recused himself from overseeing the Russia probe.

Facebook ‘Embarrassment’

Warner, who made his fortune as a telecom entrepreneur, also said at the conference that a Senate hearing last month with Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg was an “embarrassment” because it showed lawmakers were unfamiliar with how social media companies operate.

Many lawmakers’ questions concerned revelations that a British firm with ties to Trump’s 2016 campaign harvested information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge. The use of the data by Cambridge Analytica has prompted questions about Internet privacy and calls for potential government regulation to protect personal data.

Warner said Facebook was slow to react. He said there needs to be more than self-regulation of the industry and more changes than announced moves toward transparency in political advertising to counter Russian disinformation and political manipulation tactics.

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