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GOP senators push back on Dems’ claims of Russian interference

The Senate on Wednesday pushed back on Democrats’ allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election in a way to help President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.

The senators said their committee has been in contact with the FBI and the CIA, but it is unclear whether the intelligence agencies have provided any information that supports the president’s allegations.

In their opening statement, senators said they have no evidence of such an interference, but said they will hold the White House and Democrats accountable for their claims.

“If there is a significant difference between what the White and Democrats are saying and what the intelligence community has said, we are going to hold them to account,” said Sen. Susan Collins Susan Margaret CollinsRosenstein: ‘There is no evidence’ of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia Senate Dems push back in Trump era MORE (R-Maine), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

“I have not seen any evidence of Russian involvement in this election,” Collins said.

“We have a long way to go, but this is what we are hearing from our intelligence agencies.”

Sen. Mark Warner Mark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Trump officials talk ‘fake news’ on sanctions | Russian hackers go after US lawmakers | US to open Russia probe on Twitter | Dem group calls for probe into Ford over comments Trump praises Putin and Putin visit | Senate panel mulling Russian sanctions bill MORE (D-Va.) and Sen. Bob Casey Robert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems push back against Dems on cybersecurity bill Trump, Democrats push back at FBI’s Kavanaugh testimony Kavanaugh accuser: I ‘heard everything’ Biden hits Trump over ‘confusing comments’ on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats call for more oversight of FBI MORE (Maine) issued separate statements later Wednesday.

Both Warner and Casey said they are waiting for the intelligence agency to provide a more detailed report on the investigation before they make their findings public.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee is in regular contact with our intelligence partners on the ongoing investigation,” Warner said in a statement.

“Our committee has made it clear that we will hold anyone who made false claims in this matter accountable and we will continue to pursue every lead and every opportunity to do so.”

The White House on Wednesday said that no evidence has emerged to back up Trump’s claims of a Kremlin role in meddling in the presidential election.

The White, House and Senate intelligence committees have been working together to gather information on Russian interference, White House spokesman Mark Corallo told reporters.

“We’re not sure there is any evidence yet to support the president, so we haven’t seen the evidence,” Corallo said.

Corallo also noted that there have been no “probing” of any Russian operatives in the U.S. and that the U;s intelligence community is “well-prepared to continue to investigate any and all Russian activity.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Chuck SchumerHouse lawmakers introduce bill to impeach Trump GOP lawmaker says he’s worried Trump’s firing of FBI director may spark new Russian probe MORE (N.Y.) called for an independent investigation into Russian meddling in a Tuesday tweet that drew swift condemnation from lawmakers and Trump supporters.

“As far as I know, there has never been a direct investigation of Russian influence,” Schumer said.

“There is evidence that the Russians did interfere, but there has been no proof of a Russian plot to help Trump win the election.”

Trump and his allies have repeatedly denied allegations that he colluded with Moscow to interfere in the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Addison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord attorneys slam FBI’s handling of Kavanaugh allegations: report GOP senator accuses Dems of ‘toxic McCarthyism’ on Ford letter GOP senator says he thinks Trump ‘has committed impeachable offenses’ MORE (Ky.) also issued a statement Wednesday denying that there was evidence of collusion.

“President Trump and his team have been clear that any allegation of collusion is false,” McConnell said.

Congressional committees have also called for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded.

The House Judiciary Committee has also subpoenaed a letter from the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, seeking documents related to the probe.

Trump has been dogged by multiple investigations over the past several months, including by congressional panels probing his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia.