As the U.S. Senate begins investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, one North Carolina Republican will be at the center of the probe.
Senator Richard Burr, R-NC, who serves as the chairperson of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will lead the investigation — which analysts have compared to the Watergate hearings in scope and consequence.
Burr, a member of Congress for more than 20 years, worked on President Donald Trump’s national security advisory council during his campaign.
Burr was initially reluctant to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, and said on Jan. 12 that it was not his role to investigate. But after having worked with committee Vice-Chairperson and Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., Burr has expressed his commitment to a non-partisan investigation.
“I've got a job in the United States Senate. And I take that job extremely seriously,” Burr said in a press conference last Wednesday. “It overrides any personal beliefs that I have or loyalties that I might have.”
Warner said at the press conference he believes Burr will be non-partisan.
“I have confidence in Richard Burr that we, together with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this,” Warner said. “And if you get nothing else from today, take that statement to the bank.”
But Gary Pearce, a North Carolina political analyst and former Democratic consultant, said Burr needs to preserve his credibility.
Burr’s impartial judgement is necessary because of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Pearce. Nunes has been heavily criticized for compromising his integrity by visiting the White House during the House investigation.