Burr won't release Russian-linked Facebook ads

Facebook 'designed for information warfare?'
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Story highlights

  • Facebook on Monday gave Congress copies of the 3,000 political ads
  • Those ads were purchased by Russian-linked accounts

(CNN)Senate intelligence chairman Richard Burr said Monday he won't be the one who makes the Russian-linked Facebook election ads public.

At the same time, the North Carolina Republican told CNN President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has responded to the committee's letter expressing concerns about his private email account, saying he did not mislead Congress in his private interview with Senate staff when he failed to disclose the account created earlier this year.
    Facebook on Monday gave Congress copies of the 3,000 political ads that were purchased by Russian-linked accounts. But the task of releasing them publicly remains a political hot-potato between Washington and Silicon Valley, although details about the content of some of the ads has been reported by CNN, The Washington Post and other media outlets.
    Burr said he considers the ads committee-sensitive documents.
    "The committee doesn't release documents," Burr said Monday. "It won't happen out of the senate intelligence committee. We don't release documents. It's a bad precedent to set for anybody else that would produce documents."
    Facebook initially balked at giving the ads to Congress at all -- citing the company's privacy policy -- before relenting last month. In addition to the ads, Facebook is providing all of the data connected to them, including where ads were targeted, how much the ads were viewed and clicked, and how the ads were paid for by the Russian entities, according to a source at Facebook. But the social media giant says it is not planning to release the ads either.
    Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate intelligence committee
    It's possible one of the other committees may choose to do so.
    Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the House intelligence panel's Russia probe, said he was inclined to release them publicly, though he wanted to see them first.
    "I'll reserve judgment, I'll see what they are. But I can't imagine that anything would be really harmed by letting the public know what they were," Conaway told reporters.
    Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on that committee, said he was hopeful "a representative sampling" of the ads would be made public later this month, when the intelligence panel holds a public hearing on Russian election meddling and social media.
    "But I am also committed to making all of these ads public as soon as possible, working closely with Facebook to address any privacy considerations," Schiff said in a statement.
    The Senate judiciary committee, which was also receiving the ads from Facebook on Monday, did not respond to requests for comment.
    Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, also declined to comment on the ads on Monday. Warner has previously said the ads are the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to Russia's use of social media to meddle in the US election.
    Burr and Warner have scheduled a news conference Wednesday to discuss their investigation, which Burr said was intended to explain "the things we are either close to closing the book on or have closed the book on."
    "It'll go into pretty good depth on the elections, and talk a little bit about where we go from here," he said.
    Burr also told CNN Monday that he has no reason to believe that Kushner misled the committee with his private email account. Burr and Warner wrote to Kushner's attorney last week, as CNN first reported, asking him to double-check he had turned over all information relevant to the committee in light of reports he maintained a private email.
    Burr said that Kushner's camp had responded to the letter to state they had in fact turned over "every email that was pertinent to the investigation."