Senate Intel Chairman Burr on Committee’s Review of Russian Intelligence

December 16, 2016

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), made the following statement on the planned review of Russian intelligence activities:

“The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) was established to oversee the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to ensure that the appropriate departments and agencies provide informed and timely intelligence to our nation’s leaders.  The threats and challenges facing our country are numerous, and one of the Committee’s obligations is to ensure that the Intelligence Community is positioned to understand those threats—to the greatest extent possible—and to communicate their assessments of those threats to our nation’s civilian and military leadership so that they may respond accordingly.

The SSCI has focused a great deal of attention in recent years, during my tenure as Chairman as well as under the leadership of former Chairman Feinstein, on Russia’s behavior around the world.  Over the last two years, the Committee has held more than ten hearings and briefings on these issues, with four reviewing Russia’s so-called ‘active measures.’

During the 115th Congress, the SSCI will continue its review of the intelligence surrounding these issues.  This will include conducting a thorough examination of the underpinnings of the intelligence that prompted the Administration to issue the October 7 statement that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of U.S. political organizations. Among other avenues of inquiry, the Committee will:

  • Review the all-source intelligence that informed its assessments, including but not limited to the October 7 statement.
  • Review the cyber activity directed against our nation by the Russian Government, both as it regards the 2016 Election and more broadly.
  • Hold hearings examining other specific aspects of Russian behavior.
  • Interview senior officials of both the outgoing and incoming administrations including the issuance of subpoenas if necessary to compel testimony.

The Committee’s role is not only to ensure that the intelligence provided to policymakers is of the highest quality, but to understand how policymakers use that intelligence.  This includes possible intelligence collected on Russian “active measures” in the US political sphere in 2016.

The Committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads.  We will conduct this review expeditiously, but we will take the time to get it right and will not be influenced by uninformed discourse.  When appropriate, the Committee will hold open hearings to help inform the public about the issues.  That said, we will be conducting the bulk of the Committee’s business behind closed doors, because we take seriously our obligation to protect sources and methods.  As the Committee’s review progresses, we will keep Senate leadership, and the broader body, apprised of our findings.

Majority Leader McConnell and incoming Minority Leader Schumer have made it clear they expect any review of Russia’s involvement in our nation’s elections to be conducted in a bipartisan manner.  It is a charge the SSCI takes seriously, as bipartisanship—in fact, non-partisanship—is at the very core of the Committee’s charter and is essential to preserving the intelligence equities involved. 

Finally, a note about the men and women of the Intelligence Community.  Without exception, I know them to be hard-working, patriotic Americans.  They care deeply about their country, and work every day to keep us safe.  They come from all walks of life and hold views across the political spectrum.  Unlike many in Washington, though, they check politics at the office door and focus on their mission.  They are tasked with keeping our nation's leaders well-informed about events around the world.  While their failures are often well known, their successes rarely see the light of day.  We would all do well to remember the sacrifices they make on our behalf and keep in mind that what we do with the intelligence they provide is up to us.”