Burr to Sessions: ‘This is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction’ – Washington Post

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (L) listen to testimony by former FBI director James Comey during a hearing on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017. in Washington, .C. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) launched the open hearing before his panel featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions by saying it was the former senator’s chance to set the record straight on his dealings with Russia and the investigation into the Kremlin’s alleged interference in the 2016 campaign to help then-candidate Donald Trump.

“This venue is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction,” Burr told Sessions, who sat silently listening.

Burr said he hoped the attorney general — who was a top surrogate and adviser for Trump during the 2016 campaign — would clarify several questions, including: whether he had any meetings with Russian officials “or their proxies” on behalf of the campaign or as attorney general; what kind of involvement Sessions had on Trump’s foreign policy campaign team; and “what role, if any,” he played in the ouster of FBI Director James B. Comey.

“This may be your opportunity to separate fact from fiction and to set the record straight on a number of allegations reported in the press,” Burr said.

Burr stressed that he does not like open hearings, but acknowledged that the “gravity of the committee’s current investigation and the need for the American people to be presented the facts” necessitated holding hearings like today’s with Sessions in public. He noted that this is the 10th open hearing the normally cloistered Intelligence Committee has held this year, and the fifth open hearing it has held on Russia.

Burr also noted that the committee has spoken to “more than 35 individuals to date” as part of its Russia probe. He noted that on Monday, former Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson spoke with the committee; on Monday night, National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers spoke with the committee as well regarding its Russia probe.

Burr also encouraged members of the committee to refrain from taking political shots during the hearing, repeating that he and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) have been able to work together well to date and that he hoped to continue that pattern.

“We may disagree at times, but we remain a unified team,” Burr said.

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