Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a trove of documents the committee received at the end of last month “opened a lot of new questions” for its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Warner, D-Va., told Politico in an interview published Monday there were “end-of-the-year document dumps” that were “very significant.”
“I wish some of this information should have come earlier to us, but we’ve had new information that raises more questions,” Warner said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is one of several panels investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Warner said he believes his panel has interviewed more witnesses than the House Intelligence Committee or the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Democratic senator indicated the probe may not be ending anytime soon. Warner said the committee is still working to schedule interviews with more than a dozen witnesses.
In addition to shedding new light on the committee’s Russia probe, Warner also took aim at House Republicans who are pushing to make public a memo that allegedly details abuses of a government surveillance program.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., composed the memo, and several conservative lawmakers launched a campaign calling for the document to be released after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to allow all members of the lower chamber to view the document.
Warner accused Nunes, who recused himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, of creating the memo with “some select group of firebrands, and said it’s “beyond a little” McCarthyite.
“This is the ultimate kind of secret star-chamber approach created by a subset of Trump zealots in a way that — I don’t know much about the rules of the House, but boy, oh boy, if you start allowing any group of extremists on any subset of a committee to go out and create their own product, particularly using classified information, and then say, ‘Aha! I’ve got something that’s classified that’s going to really shock the heck out of you,’ ” the Virginia Democrat said. “That’s again, not the way the United States government operates and usually, the people on the Intelligence Committee, when you get on the Intelligence Committee, it’s a very sobering proposition.”
Warner called Nunes a “zealot” who is “cooking up a phony product and then threatening to spring it on the American people.”
The House Intelligence Committee could vote Monday afternoon to decide whether to publicly release the memo.
Warner said he believes the document is a “distortion” that picks “select facts out of context.”
“You’ve got this group of hardcore zealots going off, and at least based on the press reports, creating some secret cabal where they decided to write their own product, don’t even share it with Republicans, and sure as heck don’t say to Democrats, ‘Well, what do you think about these allegations?’ ” he said.