The president of the United States engaged with multiple Senate Republicans involved in the Russia investigation over the summer, encouraging them to put an end to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow, the New York Times reported Thursday. The Republican Senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, said President Trump discussed ending the investigation with the lawmakers. “It was something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,’” Sen. Burr told the Times.
Trump is already under investigation for potentially obstructing justice for the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of former FBI head James Comey and has never shown much interest in bright legal lines officiating his conduct as president. It doesn’t seem farfetched then that this paranoid president stomped on previous norms of conduct looking to allies for a break. The Republican lawmakers, Sen. Burr included, decided on a charitable reading of the president’s interactions with friendly members of the committee investigating him, chalking it up to political inexperience. For example, Sen. Burr, who leads the Senate Russia investigation into the president, explained to the Times Trump’s irritation with the Russia investigation stems from: “In his world it hampers his ability to project the strength he needs to convey on foreign policy.” Riiiight.
From the New York Times:
In addition, according to lawmakers and aides, Mr. Trump told Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri and a member of the intelligence committee, to end the investigation swiftly…
Mr. Burr said he did not feel pressured by the president’s appeal, portraying it as the action of someone who has “never been in government.” But he acknowledged other members of his committee have had similar discussions with Mr. Trump. “Everybody has promptly shared any conversations that they’ve had,” Mr. Burr said. One of them was Mr. Blunt, who was flying on Air Force One with Mr. Trump to Springfield, Mo., in August when he found himself being lobbied by the president “to wrap up this investigation,” according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation…
Mr. Trump also called other lawmakers over the summer with requests that they push Mr. Burr to finish the inquiry, according to a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss his contact with the president… Mr. Burr told other senators that Mr. Trump had stressed that it was time to “move on” from the Russia issue, using that language repeatedly, according to people who spoke with Mr. Burr over the summer. One Republican close to Mr. Burr, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Trump had been “very forceful.
“In conversations with Mr. McConnell and Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Trump voiced sharp anger that congressional Republicans were not helping lift the cloud of suspicion over Russia, the senators told political allies,” according to the Times. “[Over the summer], Mr. Trump made several calls to senators without senior staff present, according to one West Wing official. According to senators and other Republicans familiar with the conversations, Mr. Trump would begin the talks on a different topic but eventually drift toward the Russia investigation.”