Editorial page editor Ned Barnett of Raleigh’s News & Observer had an excellent — if sobering — take on Senator Richard Burr’s leadership in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Trump administration’s potentially treasonous relationship with Russia.
Barnett’s assessment: He isn’t providing any. Rather, Barnett explains, Burr appears to be merely going through the motions.
After explaining how Burr is supposed to be leading this critical investigation, but is instead performing with a decidedly low amount of energy (including a distressingly blase response to an improper overture by Trump himself asking for the whole thing to be shut down), Barnett put it this way:
“Burr’s tolerant response to Trump became especially troubling after the president’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December. Flynn’s plea and his apparent agreement to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation strengthens the possibility that involvement with the Russians occurred at the top levels of the Trump campaign.
In contrast, Burr sounds like a chairman willing to go through the motions, checking off the obvious witnesses and those the Democrats demand to have testify. He seems like a chairman who would be content with a committee report confirming what the nation’s intelligence agencies have already found and then having the Senate Intelligence Committee’s agenda move on to other subjects.
Burr’s lackadaisical response to Trump follows reports from February in which he complied with a White House request to counter news reports linking Trump campaign associates to Russia. He said he had talked to the White House and news organizations about the reports when he was aware of intelligence that didn’t support the news stories.
‘I’ve had those conversations,’ Burr said, adding, ‘I felt I had something to share that didn’t breach my responsibilities to the committee in an ongoing investigation.’
Burr, in the most prominent role of his political life, appears not particularly alarmed about a foreign attack on the democratic process nor curious about whether a presidential campaign was part of it. To which one can only respond, ‘Thank God for Robert Mueller.'”