According to Richard Burr, the senate intelligence chairman, investigations will be carried out to ascertain possible contacts between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign team, he mentioned last Friday, a day after telling reporters that probing election-disruption by Moscow was outside of his panel. Virginia Sen, Mark Warner, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat reaffirmed this, saying the committee would probe connections between Trump’s campaign, cyber-attacks by Russia, as well as other forms of election interference as listed in the intelligence report. Both men agreed that a subpoena will be used if necessary to get testimony from both parties.

The statement is the first formal announcement describing the scope of the committee’s investigation

The message came following various displeasures aired by many House Democrats on the manner in which James Comey, the FBI Director, was handling the issue. According to them he is yet to declare if he is conducting an inquiry or not. This development has, however, brought division to the House, even Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the intelligence panel chairman who spoke on Friday with POLITICO, was of the view that congress shouldn’t be carrying out investigations on any possible connection between Trump’s campaign and Russia. According to Nunes "House committees don't go operational like that, that I know of, it's a law enforcement issue."

Warner also said that though the intelligence panel is in the best place to handle the Russian investigation, formulating a supporting legislation to empower the right person or body if the committee encounters any hitch will not be ruled out.

Trump and Russia

The Republicans on their own have adopted a different approach, concentrating on the release of what they called egregious leaks of Trump-related material to the media. A strong supporter of the probing of these leaks is Nunes, this comes after the publication of a yet to be verified 35-page "dossier" that alleges Russia gathered compromising information about Trump.

The president, in a news conference on Wednesday, raised the possibility that intelligence officials leaked the report, according to him: "it would be a tremendous blot on their record." However, the Democrats maintain their stance that Russian interference is to blame.

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