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Congress

Senate Intelligence chair: 'We would be crazy' to draw a conclusion about Trump-Russia collusion now

The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday they cannot yet conclude whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, adding that their teams are "within weeks" of finishing reviewing thousands of documents related to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In a news conference, Republican Chairman Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Democratic Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia aimed to show their probe as a measured, bipartisan effort amid recent turmoil on the House intelligence panel. The senators said they wanted to finish the investigation in a "timely" fashion but stressed they did not want to rush it, steering clear of reaching conclusions about possible ties between Trump associates and Russia.

"We would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation," Burr told reporters.

The pair will interview Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner about his contacts with Russian officials, but Burr said they have not yet set a date. While former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and associates Carter Page and Roger Stone have also volunteered to testify, according to NBC, the senators did not say if they will interview them.

Overall, the committee has requested to interview 20 people for the probe, and five of those have been scheduled so far, Burr said.

As Republican House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes faces criticism about his independence from the White House, Burr and Warner defended the neutrality of their own investigation. Burr, who noted that he voted for Trump, said he has "a job in the United States Senate" that he takes more seriously than "personal beliefs" or "loyalties."

Warner echoed the sentiment.

"I have confidence in Richard Burr that we, together with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this," he said.

Burr stressed that the White House has not affected how he has handled the scope of the probe.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to erode confidence in the electoral process, eventually developing a preference for Trump over Clinton. Congressional intelligence committees are probing Moscow's role in the election. The FBI is also investigating Russia's alleged interference, including any possible Trump campaign links, as part of its counterintelligence mission.

The Trump administration has vehemently denied any collusion.

The Senate committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the methods Russia allegedly used to influence the process, including cyberattacks and misinformation campaigns. Burr and Warner said Wednesday that they hope to learn more about not only what Moscow may have done in 2016, but also what it could do moving forward.

Warner highlighted possible efforts to influence European elections or the U.S. elections in 2018 and 2020.

Watch: Trump tweets for probe into Clinton Russia ties

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