Tags: Trump Administration | susan collins | intel committee | comey | memos

Sen. Susan Collins: Intel Committee Needs Comey's Memos, Testimony

(CNN/YouTube)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 May 2017 01:23 PM

The Senate Intelligence Committee is "perfectly capable" of conducting an independent investigation into the actions surrounding James Comey's firing, but that will mean hearing directly from the fired FBI director and having access to any memos or transcripts from his February meeting with President Donald Trump, Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday.

"It is vital that our work be grounded in the evidence and thus accepted by the public once we finish," the Maine Republican told CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo.

"But we should pursue all of those allegations — the tone of the president, what he said, the actual words are so important — and that's why we need to hear and soon from Mr. Comey."

Collins also said Wednesday that her committee is also "moving up pace" on its bipartisan probe into allegations involving Russian influence on the 2016 presidential campaign, including "the vital question of whether there was collaboration between any member of the Trump campaign and the Russians."

The reports concerning a Comey's memo, in which he says Trump asked him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, are "deeply troubling" and raise "very serious qustions," said Collins.

"The problem is that what we have now is speculation getting a bit ahead of the facts," said Collins. "We need facts, and that's why we need the actual documents and we need evidence and we need testimony from those involved."

She said she is not sure, though, if the committee can take Trump or the White House at face value on many questions surrounding the probe.

"Unfortunately, the administration has given such conflicting information that president's tweets at times seem to contradict the statements made by his staff," Collins said. "That's why we need to have an interview with the former FBI director and we need all of the documents.

"And if there are transcripts, we need those transcripts as well. But I've got to tell you, we don't need them from the Russians. The idea that we would accept any evidence from President [Vladimir] Putin is absurd."

Going back to the Russian investigation, Collins said she has spent parts of three days at the CIA's headquarters going through raw intelligence that is normally not seen, as it's not vetted, and she does not agree with Trump's insistence that the Russian investigation is looking into a hoax.

"If there is one conclusion that I've seen enough evidence on to get to a finding it is that the Russians had an active campaign to try to influence the presidential elections last fall," said Collins.

"That I believe has overwhelming evidence to support it. The other questions, including the critical question of was there collaboration between the campaign and the Russians remains to be answered."

She also said she does not agree with contentions that the investigation is being spurred by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.

"The committee has taken the investigation very seriously, and we are issuing subpoenas," said Collins. "The staff has interviewed more than 30 people. We are now getting closer and closer to the principals, the names that you read in the paper and I am confident that we will do a good job.

"I do think it would help if we brought in an experienced former prosecutor or an experienced investigator, and I have made that recommendation to both the chairman and the vice chairman."

However, she would not say who that person is, but told Cuomo that he "would know his name and think he was well-qualified."

But that person is not Comey, Collins said, as he's a witness and "you don't put a witness in charge of the investigation."

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The Senate Intelligence Committee is "perfectly capable" of conducting an independent investigation into the actions surrounding James Comey's firing, but that will mean hearing directly from the fired FBI director...
susan collins, intel committee, comey, memos
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2017-23-17
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 01:23 PM
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