GOPs Russia collusion cover-up implodes in less than one day

Comment Email Print WASHINGTON — House Democrats are expressing outrage over the decision by their House Republican counterparts to end the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and collusion, arguing that they havent uncovered the truth.

Republicans announced Monday evening that they were ending the House Intelligence Committee probe after finding no evidence that Russians had colluded with Donald Trumps presidential campaign, according to a 150-page report released by Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas.

"We found no evidence of collusion, Conaway told reporters, suggesting that those who believe there was are reading too many spy novels. "We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings. But only [noted spy fiction writers] Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page turner, spy thriller.

The Houses Collusion Investigation Ends

In response, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the panel, slammed Republicans and called it a “tragic milestone for this Congress and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch.”

The outline further describes a pattern of Russian attacks against U.S. allies in Europe, Russian cyberattacks against U.S. political institutions "and their use of social media to sow discord." It also casts blame for a "lackluster pre-election response" to Russias activities and what the authors call "problematic contacts between senior intelligence community officials and the media."

Special counsel Robert Mueller is responsible for determining “whether U.S. laws were broken and who should be prosecuted,” Schiff added Monday night. “It is not Muellers job to tell the American people what happened, that is our job, and the (GOP) Majority has walked away from it.”

“Huh. Interesting. Im on the House Intel Committee and this is the first Ive seen of this one pager. And its conclusions,” tweeted Himes. He added in a statement that he didnt believe the committee adequately answered important questions in the Russia investigation and did not interview all witnesses necessary “to write a full and accurate report.”

“Dear Russia, youre cordially invited back to America this fall. — House Intel Republicans,” tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., another member of the panel.

"It was a very powerful decision, a very strong decision," Trump said as he headed to California to view prototypes for his proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico frontier. "Backed up, I understand, theyre going to be releasing hundreds of pages of proof and evidence…"

The Republicans conclusion came after the committee interviewed 73 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents. The Senate Intelligence Committees investigation is continuing.

Trump Welcomes House Panel Finding of No Election Collusion With Russia

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate panel, weighed in on the report Tuesday, telling reporters, “Its not the approach that the Senate is taking, which is still: Weve got to get to the bottom of it. Weve got to get to the facts.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that Democrats could take other action to circumvent Republicans.

“House Republicans have abandoned their oath to support and defend the Constitution and protect the American people. Democrats will continue to take real, immediate action to secure our democracy,” she said.

"Multiple Americans and Russians have been indicted or pled guilty in the Trump-Russia scandal," Pelosi said. "Every day, the extent of Russian meddling in our democracy becomes clearer, leaving us with more unanswered questions."

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., said Tuesday: While this investigation comes to a hasty and irresponsible end, the House majority cannot shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller, nor the investigation underway in the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence.”

According to Conaway, the report will agree with the intelligence assessment on most other details, including that Russians did meddle in the election. It will detail Russian cyberattacks on U.S. institutions during the election and the use of social media to sow discord. It will also show a pattern of Russian attacks on European allies — information that could be redacted in the final report. It will blame officials in former President Barack Obamas administration for a “lackluster” response and look at leaks from the intelligence community to the media.

“Someone will find out the full truth eventually, and those of us who care about countering future Russian aggression will not stay silent or inactive,” Heck added. “We will continue to pursue ways to safeguard our elections and protect against future attempts of collusion.”

In addition to the statement on coordination with Russians, the draft challenges an assessment made after the 2016 election that Russian meddling was an effort to help Trump. The January 2017 assessment revealed that the FBI, CIA and NSA had concluded that the Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, waged a covert influence campaign to interfere in the election with the goal of hurting Democrat Hillary Clintons candidacy and helping Trumps campaign.

Other Democrats are still pushing for a bipartisan, independent commission.

“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway told reporters, suggesting that those who believe there was collusion are reading too many spy novels. “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 or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page-turner, spy thriller.”

“I still believe that the Congress should establish a bipartisan, independent commission to answer the questions that the Republican Majority on the House Intelligence Committee are choosing to leave unanswered,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Schiff departs at the conclusion of a closed-door meeting between the House Intelligence Committee and Kushner on Capitol Hill in Washington Thomson Reuters

House Intelligence Committee officials said they spent hundreds of hours reviewing raw source material used by the intelligence services in the assessment and that it did not meet the appropriate standards to make the claim about helping Trump. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the intelligence material.

Following the release of the draft report authored by House Intelligence Committee Republicans that seemed to exonerate President Donald Trump of colluding with Russians during the 2016 election, ranking member of the committee Rep. Adam Schiff said he and his Democratic colleagues will release a report that contradicts that conclusion, The Washington Post reported.

Schiff contradicted his Republican colleagues in an interview with The Post, blasting them for allegedly ignoring facts, failing to press witnesses on key details, and not taking the investigation seriously.

“Theres no way for them to reach the conclusions that they want to start with unless they ignore or mischaracterize what weve been able to learn,” Schiff said, and added that the Democrats report will “set out the investigative steps that were never taken to answer further questions about the Russians and the Trump campaigns conduct.”

Conaway previewed some of the reports findings on Monday, but said the public will not see the full document until Democrats have reviewed it and the intelligence community has decided what information can become public, a process that could take weeks. Democrats are expected to issue a separate report with far different conclusions.

Schiff claimed on Monday night that the Republicans report was a “capitulation to the executive branch,” and said last month that the committee had in fact found “ample evidence” of collusion.

After a yearlong investigation into Russian meddling, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway announced Monday that the committee has finished interviewing witnesses and that Republicans have already completed a draft report saying there is no evidence of collusion. They are expected to share the document with Democrats for the first time on Tuesday.

The executive branch certainly seemed to approve of the Republicans conclusions, as Trump himself wasted no time jumping on the Republicans draft report on Monday night.

The impasse over the final report in the committees investigation reflects the deep partisanship that has afflicted the committee over the past few months, and the likely release of two final reports rather than a single one mirrors the memo controversy that shook the committee last month.

After Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes released a controversial memo that alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department with regard to the approval of a surveillance warrant application for one of Trumps former associates, Schiff and the committees Democrats released a competing memo that sought to lay out how misleading and selective Nuness claims were.

This time, it seems a similar showdown will take place, with Democrats pledging to poke holes in the Republicans assessment of the information the committee has been gathering on Trumps ties to Russia.

Rep. Mike Conaway, a Republican on the committee, defended his partys report on Monday.

“We think we have the evidence that we need now to come to the conclusion that we came to,” Conaway said.

But another Republican on the body, Rep. Tom Rooney, had a radically different assessment of his partys research.

“We have gone completely off the rails, and now were basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the days news,” he told CNN. “We have lost all credibility and were going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately. So in that regard, thats why I called for the investigation to end.”

While the House Intelligence Committee has concluded its probe, the Russia-related investigation led by the special counsel Robert Mueller is likely continue for at least several more months, as Mueller finishes the obstruction-of-justice portion of his inquiry and moves to finish other parts. That includes looking into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia and any possible role his business dealings played in the campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Russian election meddling.

Posted in World