House Intel Republicans Stop Russia Investigation, Decide No Collusion
WASHINGTON -- House Intelligence Committee Republicans unilaterally decided to end the panel's fractious investigation into Russia's campaign influence operations in the 2016 presidential election, setting the stage for the committee to issue two competing final investigation reports.
Even those partisan reports promise disagreements, with Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who took over the investigation after Chairman Devin Nunes' (R-Calif.) recusal, telling Fox that the GOP report would contradict the intelligence community agencies' assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin favored President Trump in the campaign, while committee member Tom Rooney (R-Pa.) told CNN that "we've seen a lot of evidence and propaganda over the last year that shows that the Russians were trying to damage Hillary Clinton."
"We've also seen evidence that is in a classified nature that shows the Russians fully expected her to win and were holding onto some very damaging evidence of her as well until after the election," Rooney said, adding that the GOP members can find "there was no collusion with Trump's campaign and the Russians, but the Russians were also trying to infiltrate our election cycle with all the things that have been reported."
The 150-page Intel Committee Republicans' draft report, which will be sent to Democrats on the panel Tuesday before a declassification review, reportedly lifts from the Nunes memo in its targets and recommendations, citing “anti-Trump research” in the Steele dossier tied to the Clinton campaign.
Nunes issued a statement thanking Conaway, Rooney and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) for their work on the investigation. "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," he added.
Conaway said he wouldn't be surprised if Democrats on the panel "disagree with bringing the interview phase to a close,” telling Fox News, "I’m sure they will have specific folks they wanted to interview.” He also indicated that witnesses who didn't cooperate with the committee, such as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, would likely be off the hook instead of facing contempt proceedings.
Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement on behalf of committee Democrats that the two parties should have been able to issue a joint report because "the evidence is clear and overwhelming that the Intelligence Community Assessment was correct."
"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. 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," Schiff said.