In stark contrast to the circus of an investigation in the House of Representatives that’s unraveling under the “leadership” of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) , leaders from both parties in the Senate stood shoulder-to-shoulder today and sent a clear, bipartisan message to the President, the House, and the country: We’ll take it from here.
In a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday that projected much-needed confidence and competence, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Mark Warner (D-VA), the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, gave reporters a preview of what can be expected from their already underway investigation. Their committee’s first open hearings will take place tomorrow.
“This one is one of the biggest investigations the Hill has seen in my time here,” said committee Senator Burr, adding, “…this investigation’s scope will go wherever the intelligence leads it.”
Senator Burr oversaw the investigation into President George W. Bush’s secret CIA torture project, so he knows what he’s talking about.
Among the headlines emerging from this press conference are the witnesses the committee intends to interview. 20 individuals have already been notified that they will be questioned in the probe. According to Chairman Burr:
“As we stand here today, five are already scheduled on the books, and probably within the next 10 days the remaining 15 will have a scheduled date for those individuals to be interviewed by our staff. We anticipate inviting additional individuals to come and be interviewed, and ultimately some of those interviewed individuals may turn into private or public hearings by the committee, but yet to be determined.”
Of note, the witness list includes Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, and Senior White House Advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Paul Manafort’s dubious ties to Russian oligarchs have been slowly unearthed for months. Just last week, Occupy Democrats reported on the money trail from a billionaire associate of Vladimir Putin that ended in accounts under Manafort’s name at bank in Cyprus run by associates of both Putin and Trump.
Jared Kushner, meanwhile, is under a newly formed cloud of suspicion, with news breaking only this week that he held at least one meeting during the transition period with one Sergey N. Gorkov, the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB).
The meeting raised red flags because of VEB’s known close ties to Vladimir Putin himself, and because the White House failed to previously disclose that Kushner had in fact met with that bank’s chairman.
Kushner, Manafort, and the other 18 witnesses should help investigators paint a full picture of the President’s tangled web of associations with some bad hombres linked to the Kremlin.
And now that the big boys in the Senate have ripped the baton out of Rep. Devin Nunes’ incompetent hands, the finish line for investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia should finally be reached.
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Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.