How this powerful GOP senator infuriated Trump supporters -- despite being a devout supporter himself
President Donald Trump (Screen cap)

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.