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'Can You Spell Obstruction?': GOP Senators Admit Trump Asked Them To Curb Russia Probe

Reports of president's attempt to pressure senators after firing James Comey leave critics "not surprised," but eager to see Trump held accountable for actions

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told the New York Times that President Trump urged him to end his Senate Committee's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election last summer. (Photo: @ScottMcGrew/Twitter)

Democratic lawmakers, commentators, and ethics officials are expressing shock—but not surprise—on Friday regarding a new report that President Donald Trump attempted to pressure Republican Senate leaders earlier this year to curb their investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump spoke to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was conducting the probe, about wrapping up the investigation.

"It was something along the lines of, 'I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,'" Burr told the Times.

The senator remarked that in the conversations in question, Trump seemed unaware that a president urging those investigating his campaign to end the inquiry would be construed as improper, as the president viewed himself mainly as a business owner rather than a public servant.

"Businessmen are paid to skip things that they think they can skip and get away with," said Burr.

Trump also spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) about his hope that the probe would end quickly.

The reported conversations came about two months after the president fired James Comey from his position as FBI director, raising alarm among critics that the dismissal amounted to an obstruction of justice. Norm Eisen, chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and formerly President Barack Obama's chief ethics lawyer, wrote on Twitter that the alleged conversations add weight to that belief.

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