The House Intelligence Committee has wrapped up its fourteen-month probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, concluding that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” the committee said in a one-page summary of its findings Monday. A longer report will not be made public for several more weeks.
The committee agreed with the intelligence community that the Russians did try to interfere in the 2016 election, but it took issue with the IC’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin specifically tried to help President Trump win the election.
“It was clear that he was sowing discord in our elections, pitting one American against another,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) told reporters Monday. “Tried to influence it through social media and other things. But we couldn’t establish the same conclusion that the CIA did that they specifically wanted to help Trump.”
rep. mike conaway, the top republican on house intelligence committee leading the russia probe, announces the panel has found no evidence of trump-russia collusion; will share draft report with democratic minority tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/G2pFBgr4mt
— kelly cohen (@ByKellyCohen) March 12, 2018
Conaway said, “We found no evidence of collusion. We found perhaps bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings.” He continued, “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 that into a some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller. But we’re not dealing with fiction, we’re dealing with facts. And we found no evidence of any collusion, of anything that people were actually doing, other than taking a meeting they shouldn’t have taken or inadvertently being in the same building.”
The mentions of “taking a meeting” were clear references to the June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials talked to a group of Russians who promised, but did not deliver, damaging information on Hillary Clinton. “To be pretty blunt, that meeting should not have taken place,” Conway said.
The collusion question has been the most basic, and the most contentious, of the entire Trump-Russia investigation. After this or that revelation — the emergence of the Trump dossier, the June 9 meeting, the plea bargain of George Papadopoulos, the activities of Carter Page, the analysis of Facebook ads — partisans on both sides claimed that collusion had been either proved or not.
The House committee findings are still partisan — they were released under the leadership of the committee’s controversial chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, are the work of Republicans on the committee, and are sure to be disputed by Democrats, who will come up with their own version of events. But they are the first official report ruling out collusion in the 2016 campaign.
On Fox News’ Special Report, Rep. Conaway pointed out that the committee found no evidence of collusion between the Clinton Campaign and Russia either.
Rep. Mike Conaway on finding no collusion between Trump & Kremlin: "We believe we've got the information necessary to answer [Russian meddling questions] for the American people." pic.twitter.com/wcOQ5ZDv7z
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) March 12, 2018
It took longer than a lot of people expected, but President Trump reacted to the news on Twitter in all caps:
THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Of course, the GOP Intel findings don’t close the book on the #RussiaGate follies.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters last month that he believed there was “ample evidence” of collusion already in “the public domain.”
After the committee’s findings were made public, he suggested on Twitter that the Russians might have leverage over President Trump.
BREAKING: GOP just shut down House Intel investigation, leaving questions unanswered, leads unexplored, countless witnesses uncalled, subpoenas unissued.
If Russians have leverage over the President, GOP has decided that it would rather not know. The minority's work continues: pic.twitter.com/oOf13n75Vo
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 12, 2018
The Democrats on the committee are expected to come up with their own conclusions in a separate report.
And the question of collusion remains also open for the other two Trump-Russia investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
On the other hand, a growing chorus of Republicans have called for a second special counsel to look into the Obama administration’s era surveillance abuses.
And Sara Carter on Monday fingered former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the official who illegally leaked information to CNN in January of 2017 regarding the classified briefings given to then President-Elect Donald Trump and President Barrack Obama about the “dirty dossier.”
Evidence of the leak was collected during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, government sources close to the investigation said.
Fox News host Sean Hannity opened his show Monday night calling for special counsel to shut down his investigation.
“Mueller is in and has been in a giant witch hunt,” Hannity said. He added that the media and Democrats have “perpetuated one of the biggest hoaxes in American history.”