Dueling narratives emerge as Senate investigation is said to have not found Trump-Russia collusion evidence

Burr: 'No factual evidence' of Trump-Russia collusion

(CNN/Gray News) – Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Mark Warner have publicly split for the first time over how to characterize the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

Burr, the North Carolina Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Warner, the Virginia Democrat ranking member, have managed to mostly keep a united bipartisan front through the course of the investigation.

But Burr indicated to CBS last week the investigation is near its end, and said “based upon the facts that we have” there isn’t “anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.”

Warner however on Tuesday rejected Burr’s recent statements.

“Respectfully, I disagree,” he said, according to CNN. “I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”

Warner's comments represent a rare public split for the leaders of the Intelligence Committee, which has been the only congressional panel that has kept its investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling on a bipartisan track.

Burr repeated his position Tuesday, as well.

"I'm not sure how to put it any clearer than I said it before,” he said. “We have no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia."

Meanwhile, in reporting broadcast by President Donald Trump - normally antagonistic with the nation’s largest media institutions - NBC also reported there was “no direct evidence” of “a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

The report quoted a Democratic aide who acknowledged, “We were never going to find a contract in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.’”

The Intelligence Committee investigation has no bearing on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is also conducting an investigation. A House Intelligence Committee investigation was concluded last year.

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