Politics House Republicans say no evidence of collusion as they end Russia probe
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(CNN)Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee announced Monday they found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and that they are shutting down their yearlong investigation.
The committee's Republicans are also disagreeing with the intelligence community's assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help the Trump campaign over Hillary Clinton, a notion that aligns with President Donald Trump's viewpoint on election meddling.
Top Intel Dem excoriates GOP over end of Russia probe
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ripped into Republicans on the committee on Monday after they announced they were ending the probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling."While the Majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been 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," Schiff said in a statement.
"We found no evidence of collusion, and so we found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings," Conaway said. "We found no evidence of any collusion of anything people were actually doing, other than taking a meeting they shouldn't have taken or just inadvertently being in the same building."
Republicans Ending House Russia Probe Over Democrats' Objections
Republicans who control the House Intelligence Committee ended an investigation into the 2016 presidential election over intense objections from Democrats, saying they found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. The committee’s GOP leaders announced their decision on Monday, adding that they plan to release a report soon on their findings. The probe -- originally intended to be bipartisan -- is ending even though an inquiry by Special Counsel Robert Mueller remains underway and at least four people connected to the president’s campaign are facing criminal charges.
Conaway told reporters that he feels the committee has investigated all avenues it needed to probe, and he argued that the panel would not have been able to obtain the information Democrats were seeking had they gone the route of subpoenaing witnesses or trying to hold them in contempt.
Conaway, for instance, said the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign officials and a Russian lawyer where dirt on Clinton was promised was "ill advised." But he said that the committee did not turn up any evidence of collusion, arguing the promoter who organized the meeting had exaggerated what the Russians would provide.
The committee's report will conclude that they agree with 98% of the intelligence community's January 2017 assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, according to a committee aide.
Democrats fuming after House GOP ends Russia probe
House Democrats are expressing outrage over House Republicans' decision to end the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.Load Error
But the panel's Republicans take issue with the key finding that Putin was trying get Trump elected. Conaway said it was clear the Russians were trying to sow discord in the 2016 US election, but Republicans did not establish the same conclusions as the CIA that they specifically were trying to help Trump.
The committee's Russia investigation included interviews with 73 witnesses and a review of roughly 300,000 pages of documents, Conaway said. They included key figures like Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, but Democrats have argued that those witnesses failed to fully provide documents or answer important questions.
Conaway said he hopes that Democrats can work with Republicans on the draft report, and he wants to take their feedback as they shape the final report. He declined to put a timeline on when the report would be made public, as the committee intends to submit it to the intelligence community for declassification beforehand.
Conaway said Democrats will agree with some elements of the report, such as the social media interference, but he acknowledged they'd take issue with others.
Republican Leading House’s Russia Inquiry Softens a Key Finding
Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas had said the Russians hadn’t favored Donald J. Trump’s candidacy. But on Tuesday, he said it was a matter of interpretation.WASHINGTON — The Republican leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian election interference softened his characterization of a key investigative finding on Tuesday, just a day after Republicans announced that they had completed a draft of their report.
It's widely expected Democrats will draft their own report that argues a case for collusion, as well as spells out all the avenues the committee did not investigate.
In addition to subpoenas and witnesses, Democrats have long raised issues about looking into Trump's finances, something the committee had not probed. Conaway said he saw no "link" between Trump's finances and the committee's investigation, and he did not want to go on a fishing expedition.
The Republican report will also say how "anti-Trump research" made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign through the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia. Conaway, however, stopped short of saying there was "collusion" between Clinton's campaign and the Russians, something the President has alleged.
The end of the Russia interviews is only the latest battleground on the House Intelligence Committee, which has been consumed by partisan fights for the better part of a year, from Chairman Devin Nunes' role in the investigation and more recently over competing memos about alleged surveillance abuses at the FBI during the Obama administration.
Several Republicans on the panel have been signaling for several weeks now that they're ready for the Russia investigation to wrap up, arguing that Democrats are trying to extend the probe into the campaign season.
House Russia Probe Dissolves Into a Fight Over Transcripts
Now that Republicans have terminated the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, the biggest outstanding question is whether the public will ever see transcripts from dozens of its closed-door witnesses. Republicans on the Intelligence panel are reversing their earlier plans to release those transcripts, while Democrats say they plan to attach the documents to their final report.With Republicans and Democrats planning to release dueling conclusions in the disputed inquiry, the transcripts may represent the only chance to get an unvarnished view of the evidence compiled by the committee over the past year.
"To me, I don't see anything else that's out there that hasn't been explored," Rep. Pete King, a New York Republican, told CNN last week.
But Democrats say the committee has raced through its final interviews, while allowing witnesses to pick and choose which questions they answer.
The committee issued a subpoena to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in January, but in his return testimony he still did not answer questions about his time in the White House.
Democrats also sought subpoenas for the committee's last two witnesses, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but Republicans did not issue them.
"There are a number of steps that I think any credible investigator would say, 'These need to be done,' and we still hope that they will be," Schiff said following Lewandowski's interview last week.
There are still two committees in the Senate that are investigating Russia's 2016 election meddling: the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
Still, only the Senate Intelligence Committee appears to be pushing forward at full speed on its probe, as Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is preparing to release transcripts of the committee's interviews with participants of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — a potential sign the committee is done investigating that matter.
House panel votes to approve GOP report finding no collusion between Trump and Russia .
Democrats on the panel are furious with Republicans for shutting down the probe early, in their estimation, calling the report a move to protect President Trump.“It went through,” Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), who has been running the panel’s Russia investigation, said while exiting the committee’s secure facilities on Capitol Hill. Neither he nor any of the other panel members would offer additional details about the report or the committee’s vote.
GOP lawmaker says House Russia probe must end
Republican Rep. Tom Rooney is calling for an end to the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into possible collusion in Russia's 2016 election meddling, arguing that its only purpose...
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