U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says his panel is concerned about allegations of Russia meddling in U.S. affairs and they’re planning “vigorous oversight” on the issue.
In an email statement to McClatchy on Monday, Burr said: “It is the responsibility of my committee to ensure that our nation’s intelligence agencies are resourced to collect and analyze the information necessary to ensure policy makers are informed about the threats and challenges facing our nation.”
Burr continued: “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been, and remains, concerned about Russia’s actions. The committee will continue to conduct vigorous oversight over activities and agencies within our jurisdiction in an appropriate and responsible way.”
Burr is the senior senator from North Carolina and has previously suggested U.S. intelligence officials earlier this year may have prematurely blamed the Russian government for cyberattacks involving political parties and voter registration systems in some states.
“I stand behind what the intelligence community has said, but there is additional investigation that has to take place before there is certainty on who was involved and to what degree,” Burr said in October.
He’s also called for more teeth in the U.S. response to hacking national systems or U.S. persons – no matter the origin. In September, Burr told the Washington Post he wanted President Barack Obama’s administration to strengthen its reaction beyond words, saying “I don’t think the words have worked very well up to now ... it’s time for the administration to do something vs. nothing.”
Burr’s statement on Monday comes as congressional Republicans and Democrats wrestle with how to respond both to U.S. intelligence officials warning of Russia’s involvement in the Nov. 8 election and President-elect Donald Trump’s rejection of analysts who say Russia interfered.
On Monday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, said Burr’s Intelligence Committee will conduct a “complete review” of reports that Russia has interfered with U.S. elections.
McConnell said the intelligence committee is suited for and prepared to lead a review. And, McConnell brushed aside calls for a special, separate investigative committee from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain.
Trump has called the reports of Russian interference “ridiculous” and criticized The U.S. intelligence community, which found Russia was motivated by a desire to see Trump elected.