(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she is “convinced” that the committee will “do the kind of exhaustive, in-depth and prompt investigation” that ultimately will reveal whether members of the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia before the election; or whether President Obama obtained a secret court order to wiretap Trump campaign headquarters, as Trump alleged on Saturday.
Such an exhaustive investigation may require a look at Trump’s tax returns, she said.
“You mentioned going through everything,” John Dickerson, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” told Collins on Sunday.
“And I want to ask you about President Trump's tax returns, because some people believe, in order to really figure out whether there was any influence on the president, you have to know whether there were any ties to Russia.
“You have said that the committee will perhaps subpoena the tax returns, if necessary. Do you think a committee investigation that ends without looking at the tax returns has fulfilled its duty, that the committee will have fulfilled its duty?”
It is premature for me to reach that conclusion right now.
What I am convinced of, because I know this committee well, and I know how seriously we take this charge, is that we'll go wherever the evidence leads us, and that we will get all of the information that we need.
If that includes President Trump's tax returns, then I have confidence that we will ask for them. If we don't need them in order to reach our conclusions, then we won't. But it is too soon to tell.
Dickerson, in a follow-up question, asked Collins if Trump’s tax returns would be “pretty high up on the list” of items to investigate.
“Well, let's see where the evidence leads us,” Collins responded. “We are just now beginning to have access…to the information that the intelligence community has. Like Senator Warner, I will be going over to review that information. It is many binders-thick. So, let's see where the evidence leads us.”
Democrats for months have demanded that Trump release his tax returns, asking him what he has to hide. They believe the tax returns may contain information that would be politically damaging to him, and Democrats are eager to get ahold of any such information to further delegitimize or even topple his presidency.
As for Trump’s explosive tweets on Saturday that his campaign office was bugged on orders from President Obama, Collins said, “What we need to deal with is evidence, not just statements.
“At this point, I have seen no evidence of what he (Trump) has alleged, but I have also not seen collaboration, as Director, DNI Clapper also said today, that he had seen evidence of collaboration (with the Russians).
“But we are at the very early stages of our investigation. And this is why it is so important that we do an in-depth, exhaustive, bipartisan, independent investigation, because the American people deserves answers to all of these allegations and counter-allegations, so that we can get on with the business of this country.”
In the course of the interview, Collins offered her own “theory,” which is “that the Russians are determined to sow the seeds of discontent and doubt about the legitimacy of our democracy and other Western democracies, and that they were going to do that regardless of who was elected president.
“So, it is really important, so that we know what happened and what the facts are, that we get to the bottom of this,” she said.
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