Senator Richard Burr on Thursday will have the opportunity to question former FBI Director James Comey.
Burr is the Republican chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee where Comey will be testifying on June 7th. Burr over the past few months has been leading a Senate investigation into possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Richard Burr has the luxury of not needing to worry about re-election, as Burr has announced that he will not be seeking another term in Congress in the 2022 election.
But what has been Richard Burr’s relationship with Donald Trump up until this point? Is he generally a fan of the president, or was he one of Trump’s critics during the 2016 election cycle? Here’s what you need to know about Richard Burr and his opinion of Donald Trump.
1. He Supported Donald Trump for President in 2016
During the 2016 election, Richard Burr was a supporter of Donald Trump. His support did not waiver after the leaked Access Hollywood tape on which Trump could be heard talking about sexually assaulting women, although Burr did condemn these comments.
However, Burr said that he forgave Trump after Trump apologized for making the remarks.
“I’m the son of a Presbyterian minister. My dad taught me when somebody asked for forgiveness, you grant it,” Burr said, according to NPR. “Now, I’m not going to defend Donald Trump, what he said or his actions, but when I look at our choice, it’s not close for me.”
Burr explained that Trump was still a better option in the race than Hillary Clinton, also saying that it’s too late for anyone else to replace Trump anyway.
“We don’t get to pick, now, any additional folks to run,” he said. “So we have to take who we think best meets the way forward in the future.”
Donald Trump and Richard Burr line up on just about all of the issues. FiveThirtyEight, which has been tracking members of Congress and how their votes line up with Trump’s agenda, notes that Burr votes in favor of what Trump has proposed 100 percent of the time.
2. He Was an Advisor to Donald Trump During the Campaign
Richard Burr was not only a supporter of Donald Trump in 2016; he was also a Trump advisor.
In October 2016, Burr was announced as a member of Donald Trump’s national security advisory council. This announcement came the same day as the leaked Access Hollywood tape.
At a rally in October, Burr said that there is “not a separation between me and Donald Trump.” Responding to criticisms that he is cozy with Donald Trump, Burr said that this is an accurate assessment.
“You might have seen that lately,” he said, according to Daily Kos. “I’m cozy to Donald Trump because I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton would be a disaster to my children and my grandchildren. And though I have, when appropriately, spoken up, maybe in opposition to something that was said by our nominee, make no mistake that that’s not a lack of support to our nominee.”
3. In February, He Worked to Discredit Unfavorable Media Coverage of Trump
In February 2017, Richard Burr said that he had spoken with the White House regarding reports of White House officials having contacts with Russia during the election.
The Washington Post had reported that the White House had recruited Burr to fight back against media coverage of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia ties, and Burr later confirmed this.
In a subsequent TV news interview, Richard Burr said, “I didn’t do anything that jeopardized or compromised in any way the integrity of the investigation,” according to BuzzFeed.
Richard Burr was immediately criticized for this, with many Democrats saying that his actions had compromised the impartiality of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation.
4. He Subpoenaed Michael Flynn
When Michael Flynn among other former and current Trump administration officials were not responding to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s requests for documents, Richard Burr threatened to subpoena them.
“I think all options are on the table, and I think you can envision what those options are,” Burr told reporters, according to Politico. “The most severe would be subpoena.”
Then, on May 10th, Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had indeed subpoenaed Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security advisor. Michael Flynn subsequently refused to comply with the subpoena.
“While we recognize General Flynn’s constitutional right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, we are disappointed he has chosen to disregard the Committee’s subpoena request for documents relevant and necessary to our investigation,” Richard Burr and Mark Warner said in a joint statement. “We will vigorously pursue General Flynn’s testimony and his production of any and all pertinent materials pursuant to the Committee’s authorities.”
5. He Criticized Trump’s Decision to Fire James Comey
After Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Richard Burr said he was concerned.
“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination,” Burr said in a statement. “I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee. Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.”
Donald Trump over the next few days said that James Comey was a “showboat” and a “grandstander,” with Trump also noting that he would have fired Comey regardless of whether his deputy attorney general recommended it. Burr again came to Comey’s defense.
“I find him to be one of the most ethical, upright, straightforward individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Burr said of Comey, according to Politico. “The lion’s share of FBI employees respect the former director.”