Senate intel panel sets hearing on report alleging Trump-Russia collusion

The Senate Intelligence Committee plans this week to question the lead drafters of a U.S. intelligence report that accused Russia of manipulating the 2016 presidential election to boost the prospects of Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the panel, told reporters last week that the group plans to wrap up its investigation into Russian meddling by August.

“This gives staff the month of August in all likelihood to wrap up our investigation and for staff to work intensely while we’re out of here and not getting in their hair,” Burr said.

According to a late Friday news release from Burr and the panel's vice chairman, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the closed-door session will be held Wednesday.

Released two weeks before Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, the U.S. intelligence community assessment, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” was an unprecedented collaboration among the nation's leading intelligence agencies to examine whether Russia had any influence on the 2016 election.

Trump has repeatedly shrugged off accusations of collusion with Russia as a conspiracy put forth by the federal government's “deep state” to undermine his presidency.

Russian officials have likewise denied any involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Former FBI Director James Comey will reportedly not attend Wednesday's scheduled Senate Intelligence Committee hearing due to a "previously scheduled engagement."

Former FBI Director James Comey will reportedly not attend Wednesday's scheduled Senate Intelligence Committee hearing due to a "previously scheduled engagement." (Associated Press)

Last week, Trump tweeted, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait ‘till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!”

Those invited to testify at Wednesday's hearing include former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey, the Washington Times reported.

But Comey’s attorney said Friday that the former director will not be able to attend “because of a previously scheduled engagement.”

Trump fired Comey in May 2017 over his handling of the Russia probe. Comey has since released a memoir, “A Higher Loyalty” in which he is highly critical of Trump, likening him to a mob boss who values loyalty over duty to a higher cause.