Senate Intelligence Chairman plans public hearing on Russia

© Reuters. The committee’s chairman, US Senator Burr, questions former US Senator Coats as he testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his nomination to be director of national intelligence in Washington.

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that he plans to hold public hearings on possible links between President Donald Trump‘s campaign and Russia, although he did not say when they would take place.

“It will happen,” Republican Sen. Richard Burr told reporters after a closed-door committee meeting. When asked if he knew when, he said: “Not yet, but soon.”

The House Intelligence Committee, which, like the Senate panel, is conducting its own investigation of possible ties to Russia, will hold its first public hearing on Monday.

Congressional Democrats have asked for a special counsel or nonpartisan select committee to investigate the matter. But Trump’s fellow Republicans, who control the majority in both the Senate and House, say the various investigations by congressional committees are enough.

US intelligence agencies said in January that Russia had carried out cyberattacks against Democrats in an effort to influence the 2016 US elections on behalf of Trump. Russia has denied it.

Burr also said that he now does not plan to follow the lead of other Congressional committees that have requested requests for court orders or court documents related to Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had eavesdropped on Trump Tower’s phone calls.

Trump did not provide evidence to support his accusation, which former Obama administration officials have denied.

When asked to explain why he had not asked for such evidence, Burr said he felt it was unnecessary.

“We’ve had enough conversations and we’ve gotten responses that we find satisfactory from the right people,” Burr said, when asked to explain why he wouldn’t ask.

Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism have requested evidence about the alleged wiretapping. The Justice Department has asked for more time to respond.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters after leaving the closed-door committee meeting Tuesday that he had not yet seen any evidence to support the claim of Trump’s wiretaps.

Burr declined to comment on whether he had seen any evidence.

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