House Intel Committee Republicans Conclude No Evidence of Collusion Between Trump and Russia
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."
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.