Republican Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says his committee is about to issue a report concluding that it found no direct evidence of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia. This is obviously a bunch of horse crap, and multiple Democrats on the committee are now publicly pushing back against Burr.
The Senate Intel Committee used to be the one Trump-Russia investigative committee that was functioning in bipartisan fashion. Now it’s a partisan train wreck, and Richard Burr – who spent more than a year running this probe in seemingly fair fashion – is now just shy of Devin Nunes in the cartoonishly corrupt department. So what the heck happened? The first answer that comes to mind is, obviously, that Trump and Russia have finally managed to compromise Burr. But there’s another potential angle here.
Back when the Senate Intel Committee was first deciding whether to investigate Trump-Russia, Republican Senator Susan Collins was the swing vote. She voted with the Democrats to give them the majority and force the investigation to happen. In fact she was rather loud about it. If you’ll recall, this was a big deal at the time. Robert Mueller hadn’t yet been appointed, so the committee probe was the closest thing we had to a real investigation.
This put Chairman Richard Burr in a position where he had to lead a Trump-Russia investigation whether he wanted to or not, because the majority of his committee wanted it. But last year we all watched Susan Collins rather emphatically become a Donald Trump puppet around the time of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. So if Collins caved to Trump on Kavanaugh, she surely caved to him on the Trump-Russia probe as well, right?
If Susan Collins has since gone back and told Richard Burr that she only supports a comically limited Trump-Russia investigation aimed at not finding any collusion, then that would give Burr the power to cripple his own probe and put any BS he wants in his own majority report. So it may not be that Burr has suddenly become a Trump puppet on this. It may be that he was a Trump puppet all along, and he simply wasn’t able to carry out his corruption until Collins also became a Trump puppet.
In any case, it’s far too late for the Senate Intel Committee report to matter. The Republican majority on the committee is going to falsely exonerate Donald Trump, the Democratic minority on the committee will point out that he’s obviously guilty, and not a single member of the public will change their mind as a result. We know this because we saw the same exact thing play out last year with the House Intel Committee, and its split report had zero impact.
There are only a few Trump-Russia investigations that matter at this point. Robert Mueller has all the cards. SDNY has a few aces up its sleeve. And the newly Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee is about to hold public hearings that can sway those among the public who have never been sure what to make of the Trump-Russia scandal. While the Senate Intel Committee probe was once crucial, it ceased being relevant some time ago. In the end, its report simply won’t impact anything.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report