Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner says the panel is moving beyond the initial stage of its Russia investigation to one that includes interviewing key players from the Trump campaign who have been cited in the press as having potential links to Russia.
“People like me have said ‘lots of smoke’,” Warner told reporters Wednesday. “Well, part of the reason we don’t know what the source of that smoke is because we’ve not had the chance yet to talk to any of the individuals who’ve kind of created some of the smoke. Now we’re getting into that phase.”
The first phase of the investigation involved interviewing members of the intelligence community about its findings regarding Russian meddling in the last presidential election. Warner said the next stage will likely garner more media attention due to the profile of the people with which the committee will speak next.
Warner said the committee expects Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who also serves as a senior White House adviser, will keep his commitment to testify to the committee voluntarily.
Warner said he is “also pleased” that the committee is making “great progress” in obtaining financial documents from the Treasury Department’s financial crimes network related to the Trump campaign. Warner said they have the “first tranche” of documents “and are getting the second tranche.”
Committee Chairman Richard Burr told reporters after a public hearing on Russian election interference Wednesday morning that he thinks the committee could wrap up its Russia probe by the end of the year, but admitted that the timeline is “aspirational.”
Warner also confirmed Wednesday evening that the committee has “a commitment” to view memos written by former FBI Director James Comey about his interactions with President Donald Trump.
“We have a commitment to get appropriate access to the Comey memos,” Warner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’m pleased, I think it’s critical information that we have to have as part of our review process.”
Comey said he created unclassified memos recounting his discussions with Trump because he was worried the president might lie about their conversations. Comey said he was particularly uncomfortable with February meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, during which the president asked everyone but Comey to leave and allegedly pressured him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
Though Comey has testified publicly about the contents of the memos, Warner said he’s “anxious to see his contemporaneous reflections on the meeting, particularly the Feb. 14th meeting,” and that the committee would gain access to the memos “soon.” It’s unclear whether the memos will be made public.
Earlier in the day, Burr also said the committee had “a commitment” to access the memos, Politico reported.
But both Burr and Warner would not reveal the source of the commitment to access the memos. Warner joked that since he was having a drink with Burr later, he wanted to make sure their statements were in sync.