CASE CLOSED? House Republicans say they’ve found no evidence of collusion in one of the big 3 Russia investigations


adam schiffJ. Scott Applewhite/AP

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The House Intelligence Committee has finished all its interviews in its congressional Russia investigation and Republican members have drafted a report finding there is no evidence of collusion.

The 150-page report, which has not been seen by committee Democrats, supports evidence of Russian cyberattacks on US political institutions in 2015 and 2016 and that “problematic contacts” occurred between intelligence officials and the media.

But the GOP claims it “found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

In response, Trump tweeted that the investigation “found no evidence of collusion or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia,” though the full committee has not yet announced its findings.

The GOP also deviated from the intelligence community’s assessment last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump over other candidates.

But a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence told CNN, “The Intelligence Community stands by its January 2017 assessment.”

Committee member Rep. Mike Conway said the House investigation had found “bad judgment” and “inappropriate meetings” between Russia and members of the Trump campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal, including the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

“That meeting should never have taken place,” Conaway said. “But we can’t find anything that leads us to a collusion string.”

But even the GOP committee members seem to be divided on the draft report.

Rep Tom Rooney told CNN the investigation had “gone completely off the rails” and “lost all credibility.” But he also said he believes Russia favoured Trump over Clinton.

“I certainly think they didn’t like Hillary,” Rooney said.

The most senior Democrat comittee member, Rep. Adam Schiff, released a statement Monday evening saying the Republican majority members were “not willing to pursue facts,” “afraid to compel witnesses,” and “under great pressure to end the investigation.”

“It is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch. By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly,” said Schiff.

Schiff also said the committee’s work was far from complete.

On a whole host of investigative threads, our work is fundamentally incomplete, some issues partially investigated, others, like that involving credible allegations of Russian money laundering, remain barely touched. If the Russians do have leverage over the President of the United States, the Majority has simply decided it would rather not know.” 

Rep. Adam SchiffWin McNamee/Getty Images

Chairman Devin Nunes announced on Monday the committee would now begin writing its final report.

“After more than a year, the Committee has finished its Russia investigation and will now work on completing our report,” Nunes said in a statement. “Once the Committee’s final report is issued, we hope our findings and recommendations will be useful for improving security and integrity for the 2018 midterm elections.”

According to The Journal, the committee has interviewed over 50 people and reviewed thousands of pages of documents as part of its probe. Signs of its conclusion come amid continuing partisan divisions on the committee.

Although the committee interviewed prominent people in Trump’s circle, like former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, it was unable to secure an interview with the president himself. Several witnesses including Bannon and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks curtailed their testimony and refused to answer questions about their time in Trump’s White House.

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-CA) speaks during a presser in Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaThomson Reuters

But the investigation has frequently been overshadowed in recent months by the committee’s partisan infighting.

Nunes, a Republican, released a controversial memo that alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department with regard to obtaining a FISA surveillance warrant to surveil the communications of a former Trump associate. Schiff, the committee’s ranking member, then released a competing memo that sought to clarify the warrant application process and to show that the agencies did not act improperly or illegally.

As a result of the controversy around the memos, the committee’s two wings have become so intractable that CNN reported the committee is likely to produce two separate reports — one from the Republicans that denies that any collusion took place, and another from Democrats that argues that some form of collusion may have occurred. CNN reported that the Democratic report might also point out the investigation’s shortcomings.

But the Russia-related investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller will likely continue for at least several more months, as Mueller finishes the obstruction of justice portion of his inquiry and moves to finish other parts of his probe. That includes looking into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia and any possible role his business dealings played in the campaign.

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