Legal experts refute Senate Intelligence Chair’s comments on Russia probe

Legal experts refute Senate Intelligence Chair’s comments on Russia probe
Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock
Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock

While House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, has announced his plans to go full speed ahead with a Russia investigation, Republican Richard Burr has expressed a very different viewpoint over in the U.S. Senate. The North Carolina senator, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, has asserted that there is no “hard evidence” of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign in 2016. But some legal experts are stressing that it’s too soon for Burr to be jumping to that conclusion, even though President Trump is agreeing with him.


“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” Burr asserted. However, legal expert Mimi Rocah disagrees.

Rocah, a former U.S. attorney who now teaches at the Pace University Law School, visited Twitter on February 12 and posted, “Prosecutors often don’t have ‘direct proof’ of conspiracy but prove via circumstantial evidence.” Rocah added that there is a “mountain” of evidence “showing (that) people within Trump’s circle conspired with Russia”—and some of that evidence “sure seems direct,” such as “collaborating with” a “Russian intel agent. So I don’t get what Burr means.”

Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega concurred with Rocah. Responding to Rocah’s tweet, de la Vega posted, “Senator Burr is not an attorney, so he may not fully understand the role and value of circumstantial evidence in the proof of cases.”

Other legal analysts similarly cast doubt on Burr's claims:

Natasha Bertrand, an MSNBC contributor and writer for The Atlantic, weighed in as well on Twitter—posting that a Senate Intelligence Committee aide told her that there is “a common set of facts” on the Committee and “a disagreement about what those facts mean.” And Bertrand was also told, “We are closer to the end than the beginning, but we’re not wrapping up.”

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