The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), told reporters Wednesday at a press conference that he can say with absolute certainty that no votes were affected by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and that the committee is confident that President Donald Trump’s win was based on an accurate count of the votes.
“We can certifiably say that no vote totals were affected, that the tallies are accurate, the outcome of the election is based on the count of votes,” he said. “They [Russia] did not, in any way, shape or form, alter that, that we’ve been able to find.”
The statement came immediately after, and appeared to be a rebuke of the vice chairman of the committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who implied that Russia had helped get Trump elected.
"I fear sometimes, if you add up all [Russia] spent, it was a decent return for them," he said.
Toward the end of the press conference, Burr slapped down a reporter's question about whether the committee might possibly reach a point at which Russian meddling might be judged to have been so "overwhelming" that it would change the results of the election.
"Maybe that's a theory some people are working under," he said. "All I can tell you is, the votes were counted. One person won. And that's how it's going to stay."
Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, did not say anything to counter this statement.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election since December. The committee is planning to meet with Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen on October 25, and with social media company representatives on November 1.
"As it relates to the Steele dossier, unfortunately, the committee has hit a wall," said Burr.
He went on to say that the investigators on the committee, and the senators themselves, could not come to any determination about the allegations in the report written by former British intelligence office Christopher Steele given that Steele has not cooperated.
"I strongly suggest that you come in and speak with us," Burr said, speaking directly to Steele. "If you don't voluntarily come, I will assure you, you will be compelled to come."
He said the committee was unable to decide anything about Steele's report without knowing two things: Who paid for it, and who Steele's sources were.
It was been reported that Steele's report was initially paid for by a rival Republican campaign during the 2016 primary race, and that Steele did not travel to Russia himself to collect or verify the information on which the report is based.
Earlier in the press conference, both Burr and Warner talked about the Facebook ads that ran during the election that were paid for by Russian operatives, with Burr saying that the ads did not appear to be aimed at helping or hurting Trump or Clinton specifically.
"If we used solely the social media advertising that we have seen, there's no way that you can look at that and say that was to help the right side of the ideological chart and not the left. Or vice versa," he said. "They were indiscriminate."
They appeared to be intended, he said, "to create chaos at every level."
The issue of collusion, and whether or not any associates of Trump colluded with Russia is "still open" said Burr, saying the committee is still in an "exploratory mode."
Last Modified: November 21, 2017, 1:23 pm