http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/senators-aim-to-release-russia-findings-before-2018-election/article/504231

Senators aim to release Russia findings before 2018 election

Posted Oct 4, 2017 by AFP
Key senators investigating Russia's meddling in the US presidential race and possibile collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow said Wednesday they hope to release the panel's findings well before next year's mid-term elections.
US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (L) and the panel's top Democrat Mark Wa...
US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (L) and the panel's top Democrat Mark Warner said it is vital to release their findings on Russian election meddling prior to the primaries for the next mid-term races in 2018
JIM WATSON, AFP

Key senators investigating Russia's meddling in the US presidential race and possibile collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow said Wednesday they hope to release the panel's findings well before next year's mid-term elections.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, providing a progress report on his nine-month investigation, also said the jury was still out on whether Trump or his aides and allies colluded with Russia, but stressed that Moscow had successfully sown "chaos at every level" in the 2016 election.

Finding out what happened, including how Russia interfered, and alerting Americans and in particular local and state election officials in a timely fashion was critical, he said.

"We've got to make our facts as it relates to Russia's involvement in our election public prior to the primaries getting started in 2018, which means sometime in the first half of the year," Burr told reporters.

"It's still my aspirational goal to finish the entire investigation this calendar year."

The next mid-term elections, in which all 435 House seats and about one third of the Senate's 100 seats are up for grabs in Congress, and when local races across the country are held, take place in November 2018.

Burr said his panel has spent 250 hours interviewing more than 100 figures connected in some way to Russia's interference, combed through nearly 100,000 pages of documents, and scoured emails and highly classified intelligence findings.

"We're not there yet. We're not ready to close it," he said of the committee's investigation.

The panel is expected to interview at least 25 more people this month, while representatives of social media giants like Facebook have been invited to testify at an open hearing on November 1, Burr said.

Facebook is in the spotlight after revelations that it allowed onto its network a series of Russia-linked ads which appeared to use hot-button issues to turn people against one another ahead of the election.

The company recently turned over 3,000 of the Russia-linked ads to Congress.

Senator Mark Warner, the committee's top Democrat who is working closely with Burr, said Russian meddling was continuing.

"The Russian active measures efforts did not end on election day 2016," he said. "We need to be on guard."

Warner also expressed frustration that administration officials took nearly a year before revealing that Russia had sought to penetrate the voting systems of 21 states and test their vulnerabilities.