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U.S. House speaker Paul Ryan says “answers” are needed on reports of improper contacts between President Donald Trump’s campaign officials and Russia during the presidential campaign.
“We need to get answers. We need to make sure that nothing happened that shouldn’t have happened as we go forward,” Ryan said during a televised interview Tuesday with NBC’s Today show.
Three congressional probes into possible links between the Trump and Russia are underway. Ryan did not indicate whether a special prosecutor should be involved in the probe but stressed that a bipartisan investigation is necessary to help ensure that the intelligence information gathered is not compromised.
Democrats want a special prosecutor or a select congressional committee to further investigate claims of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. But the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, who is leading one of three congressional probes, said he has seen no evidence of improper contacts and has no plans to expand an investigation already underway.
“We just cannot go on a witch hunt,” Congressman Devin Nunes told reporters Monday.
However, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Congressman Adam Schiff, later said no conclusions have been reached yet about whether Trump aides had contacts with Russian officials during last year’s presidential campaign.
Lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives are looking at details of findings by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election in an effort to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.
American intelligence officials concluded that Russia hacked into the computer of Clinton’s campaign chief, with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks later releasing thousands of emails showing embarrassing behind-the-scenes efforts by Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Before he was inaugurated as the country’s 45th president, Trump reluctantly accepted the finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered with the election, but says he knows of no contacts between his campaign aides and Russian intelligence officials.
At a White House meeting with insurance company executives, Trump was asked by a reporter about demands by some lawmakers for a special prosecutor to investigate any links between his campaign and Russia.
“I haven’t called Russia in 10 years,” he said.
Earlier this month, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was ousted following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his frequent contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.