Issue of Trump campaign collusion with Russian Federation 'still open'

REUTERS  Thomas White  File

"As it relates to the Steele dossier, unfortunately, the committee has hit a wall", North Carolina Republican Sen.

In the end, Burr said, "The committee can not really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like, who paid for it?"

Whether aides to President Donald Trump's presidential campaign collaborated in a Russian campaign to steal and leak documents damaging to his opponents has emerged as a central question to Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional investigators, an idea that Trump has dismissed as a hoax.

Warner says the Russian effort to sway the election also involved attempts to test the vulnerabilities of 21 states' election systems.

Three sources with knowledge of Mueller's probe said his investigators have assumed control of multiple inquiries into allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russian Federation interfered in the election to benefit Trump, a Republican.

"We won't release the documents provided to our committee, period", he said, although he said they were "fine" if Facebook and other platforms did so themselves.

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The announcement comes at a time when Mueller's investigation also appears to be picking up steam as it issues requests that the White House turn over documents and materials related to events of interests regarding Russia's meddling. The committee is examining Russian efforts to push out social media messages on Twitter and Facebook. Facebook surrendered the content of thousands of ads to Congress this week and it has acknowledged that some 10 million Americans may have seen them from 2015 to earlier this year.

Burr said the committee has determined that the firing of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey is outside of their jurisdiction, and he also said that there was more work to be done to figure out whether anyone in President Trump's orbit colluded with the Russians past year.

The dossier, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, includes unverified allegations about Trump's connections with Russian Federation and surfaced online in January. Mark Warner, provided an update on a congressional investigation that was launched the same month as President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Burr said his committee's investigation is rapidly moving forward and has carried out more than 100 interviews and has canvassed almost 100,00 pages of documents, many of them highly classified.

There has been some speculation that there is pressure on Burr to conclude the investigation, particularly from Trump circles, but he said that "the issue of collusion is still open".

Leaders of the Senate intelligence committee are set to release preliminary findings about Russian intervention in the 2016 election - and publicly warn states, voters and social media companies about how to prevent any future meddling. Twitter officials have said they found about 200 accounts that seemed to be part of a Russian campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, and cybersecurity firms have projected that number is higher. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating for months the Trump team's connections to Russians, and even the possibility of collusion.

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