Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have concluded their year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their key finding: Neither President Donald Trump nor anyone involved in his campaign colluded with Russia.
“We’ve found no evidence of collusion,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), the leader of the committee’s investigation, told reporters on Monday, adding that there was “perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment at taking meetings,” but nothing that amounted to a coordinated and deliberate effort to work with Russians to win the White House.
“[O]nly Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take these series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a fiction and turn it into a page-turner spy thriller,” Conaway said.
He also said that while Republicans on the committee agree that Russia did interfere in the 2016 presidential election, they “disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
That directly contradicts the US intelligence community’s assessment from January 2017, which clearly states that Russia wanted Trump to win. It also contradicts special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for working to help Trump win by sowing divisions via the internet.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the news — in all caps, no less — claiming the committee concluded there was no collusion or coordination between his campaign and Russia. (Of course, that conclusion just came from Republicans on the committee and is not necessarily the judgment of committee Democrats.)
None of this is likely to satisfy Democrats on the committee, who have consistently argued that Republicans had no real intention of finding out the truth. For example, Democrats claim Republicans didn’t use the full power of the committee to subpoena documents or compel further testimony that key witnesses withheld from investigators.
Committee Democrats also say that its Republicans never interviewed key witnesses including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s associate Rick Gates — all of whom Mueller has indicted in his investigation.
“The premature closing of this investigation represents a betrayal of the American people and public trust,” Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told me. “There is no possible way that this finding can be verified given the amount of outstanding subpoenas we have, leaving the Committee and Congress’ investigative and enforcement powers at stake.“
According to CNN, Conaway hadn’t told Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the committee’s top Democrat, on Monday that Republicans concluded the investigation. Schiff vowed to focus on possible Trump-Russia ties, however, and go after House Intelligence Committee Republicans for ending the probe: “In the coming weeks and months, new information will continue to be exposed… And each time this new information becomes public, Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance.”
That, and today’s surprise announcement, underscores just how dysfunctional and hyperpartisan the committee’s functioning has been throughout the entire process.
Expect even more partisanship
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SOURCE: Vox – Alex Ward