President Trump exhorted Senate Republican leaders, including the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, to bring its investigation into Russian activities during last year’s election to a swift conclusion, The New York Times reported late Thursday.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., told the paper that Trump told him “something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible.'” Burr said he told the president that “when we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish.”
The Times report, which cited half a dozen lawmakers and aides, claimed that Trump had complained to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that he was not doing enough to bring the investigation to an end. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., another member of the intelligence committee, said Trump implored him to “wrap up this investigation” while the two were on board Air Force One over the summer.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former chair of the intelligence committee, said Trump’s requests were “inappropriate” and represented “pressure that should never be brought to bear by an official when the legislative branch is in the process of an investigation.”
But Burr told the Times that Trump was not aware of any irregularity in his requests, due to his lack of experience in politics. He added that the president believes the Russia investigation “hampers his ability to project the strength he needs to convey on foreign policy.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee is one of three congressional panels investigation Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The others are the House intelligence committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department in May to oversee an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.