Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday that he has “grave concerns” about the independence of an investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s top aides and Russia.
“I have seen the press reports suggesting that the White House enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress to counter allegations regarding issues that are currently under SSCI investigation,” Warner wrote in a statement.
CNN reported on Thursday that the FBI had refused a request from White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to dispute a story saying that Trump’s aides were in contact with Russian officials before the election.
Senior administration officials insisted on Friday that FBI officials in fact came to Priebus to say the reporting was inaccurate. White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued later the same day that Priebus had no choice but to push the FBI to publicly dispute the reports.
“I don’t know what else we were supposed to do,” he said.
Warner said in his statement that he expressed “grave concerns” on the matter to CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I will not accept any process that is undermined by political interference,” Warner said. “If SSCI cannot properly conduct an independent investigation, I will support empowering whoever can do it right.”