House Republicans Say No Collusion With Russia

Conaway of Texas right last month in Washington. Credit Jacquelyn Martin  Associated Press

Conaway of Texas right last month in Washington. Credit Jacquelyn Martin Associated Press

The leader of the House Intelligence Committee's Russian Federation investigation seemed to back off Tuesday from the most surprising finding in the GOP's report that Russian Federation was not trying to help President Donald Trump as the panel's top Democrat trashed the product as a political gift to the White House.

The report affirmed that Russia was actively waging an "active measures" information campaign against the United States leading up to the 2016 election, but notably disputed that the Russian efforts were meant to help Trump win.

The House Republicans said they had already completed a draft version of what they said would eventually be the committee's final report on the investigation.

Trump, meanwhile, praised the draft Republican report, saying the White House is "very, very happy" with the GOP conclusions.

Democrats have said for some time that they believed Republicans weren't conducting a serious investigation.

Republicans on the committee, who released the report in bullet form, said they would provide the full report to Democrats Tuesday (yesterday) and it would be made public after it's vetted for classified information.

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Schiff said he could say "with confidence" that there was significant evidence of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Schiff appeared with fellow intelligence committee Democrats on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening and said the Republicans had put forth a "pretense of trying to find the truth". He also signalled that he would reopen or begin certain lines of inquiry if Democrats retake the majority of the House this November. The investigation included interviews with 73 people and nearly 300,000 pages worth of documents. "We will be putting together a report that will set out for the country what evidence we have seen to date". "We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings". But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings, whatever, and weave them into some sort of fictional page turned spy thriller.

USA intelligence agencies concluded in January 2017 that Putin had personally "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election" that shifted from trying to "denigrate" Clinton to developing "a clear preference for President-elect Trump".

"Everybody gets to make up their own mind whether they were trying to hurt Hillary or help Trump", he said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the intelligence material.

"It was a powerful decision that left no doubt, and I want to thank the House Intelligence Committee", Trump told reporters Tuesday. "It's kind of a glass half full, glass half empty".

Conaway said there will be a second report just dealing with the intelligence assessment and its credibility.

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The committee's findings, said Byron York in the Washington Examiner, say investigators came to "concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment's judgments except with respect to Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump".

Eric Holder, former attorney general in President Obama's administration, said it was a cover up.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who is leading the inquiry, had told reporters Monday that the committee's Republicans had extensively reviewed a 2017 assessment by US intelligence agencies and found only one area of disagreement: that the Russians had favored Donald Trump's candidacy. The Senate panel is expected to issue findings on the more controversial issue of co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation at a later date.

Schiff added that the report was "little more than another Nunes memo in long form", likening it to the four-page document that the panel's GOP members, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., put out this year alleging that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice engaged in "surveillance abuses" to monitor the activities of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Asked why Republicans on the committee were aiming to close their investigation even as special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation appears to be intensifying, Rooney replied, "We've gone completely off the rails". So far, Mueller has charged almost 20 people as part of his investigation, including three Trump associates who have pleaded guilty.

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