For their September/October magazine, Mother Jones ran an article profiling Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the harder Republicans to pin down on willingness to hold President Donald Trump accountable.
Burr’s conflict began in 2016, when — faced with a competitive election and a serious challenge from Democratic state Rep. Deborah Ross — he joined Trump’s team as a security adviser. His closer ties to Trump helped him get elected — but in the process of protecting him, Burr also downplayed the Russia threat. Despite the CIA briefing him in his capacity as intelligence chairman about Russian efforts to help Trump, he told Foreign Policy, “I have yet to see anything that would lead me to believe that’s the case.”
Burr also initially resisted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to get him to open an investigation, but ultimately agreed to it. McConnell, however, was widely suspected of only supporting an investigation to reduce the likelihood of a special counsel being appointed — which ultimately was for naught.
With all that said, once Burr began investigating, he didn’t behave quite like his House GOP counterpart Devin Nunes (R-CA) did, trying to outright shut the book on Russia and instead investigate the investigators. As Mother Jones noted, his is the only committee in either chamber that has conducted a Russia investigation on a bipartisan basis, keeping Democratic Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in the loop, infuriating pro-Trump pundits like Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs. He also drew GOP outrage for subpoenaing Donald Trump Jr. after evidence emerged he lied to the committee.
Nevertheless, he has still frustrated Democrats on plenty of occasions. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) complained that Burr has held few public meetings, saying, “There’s a lot of work to do before the Senate Intelligence Committee proclaims mission accomplished on its Russia report.” Moreover, former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report suggests Burr was feeding inside information about FBI investigative activities to the Trump White House, which would be an abuse of his power as a member of the “Gang of Eight.”
When the history books are written on the Russia investigation, then, it would seem that whether you support or oppose Trump, Burr’s actions make him neither a clear-cut hero nor a clear-cut villain.
Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China
Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.
Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.
Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs
President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.
At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.
But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.
"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.
Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan
Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.
Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.
It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.
"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.