House Democrats cite ‘ev­i­dence’ of TrumpRus­sia elec­tion col­lu­sion

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation | Public Notices -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Democrats on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee are sharply dis­agree­ing with Repub­li­cans on the panel who say they don’t see any ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion or co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s 2016 cam­paign and Rus­sia.

Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Demo­crat on the panel, said Tues­day that he be­lieves there is “sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence” of col­lu­sion be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia, though he couldn’t say if there was crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing.

Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee an­nounced Mon­day that they’d com­pleted a draft re­port and they saw no ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion. Schiff, who saw the GOP re­port for the first time on Tues­day, said Democrats on the com­mit­tee would try to con­tinue the in­ves­ti­ga­tion where pos­si­ble and would write their own re­port to lay out con­clu­sions from the in­tel­li­gence panel’s year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling.

The GOP re­port “mis­lead­ingly char­ac­ter­izes events, and paints a por­trait and tells a story that could not have been bet­ter writ­ten if it was writ­ten in the White House it­self,” Schiff said.

Trump en­thu­si­as­ti­cally praised the draft Repub­li­can re­port, telling re­porters Tues­day morn­ing that the White House is “very, very happy” with the GOP con­clu­sions.

“It was a pow­er­ful de­ci­sion that left no doubt and I want to thank the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee,” Trump said.

Democrats have said for some time that they be­lieved Repub­li­cans weren’t con­duct­ing a se­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Schiff on Tues­day re­leased a 22-page re­port de­tail­ing threads that Democrats still be­lieve the com­mit­tee should pur­sue and wit­nesses they still want to hear from. Those in­clude White House of­fi­cials, cam­paign of­fi­cials and peo­ple in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

As ex­am­ples of ev­i­dence of co­or­di­na­tion, Schiff cited mul­ti­ple con­tacts be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia, in­clud­ing a meet­ing in Trump Tower in June 2016 and in­for­ma­tion passed on to an Aus­tralian diplo­mat by a for­mer Trump cam­paign aide, Ge­orge Pa­padopolous, that the Rus­sians had dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Schiff said Democrats would try to re­lease all com­mit­tee in­ter­view tran­scripts in their re­port. He also sig­naled that he would re­open or be­gin cer­tain lines of in­quiry if Democrats re­take the ma­jor­ity of the House this Novem­ber.

Texas Rep. Mike Con­away, the Repub­li­can lead­ing the Rus­sia probe, pre­viewed some of the GOP re­port’s 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 be re­leased, a process that could take weeks.

“We found no ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion,” Con­away said, 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 page­turner, spy thriller.”

In ad­di­tion to the state­ment on co­or­di­na­tion with Rus­sians, Repub­li­cans said the draft chal­lenges an as­sess­ment by U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies 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 Clin­ton’s can­di­dacy and help­ing Trump’s cam­paign.

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.

The Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence is­sued a state­ment soon af­ter the GOP an­nounce­ment, say­ing it stood by the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s find­ings.

Con­away ap­peared to walk that con­clu­sion back a bit on Tues­day, say­ing it was clear that the Rus­sians in­tended to hurt Clin­ton and make her a less ef­fec­tive pres­i­dent, if she won.

“Whether or not they were try­ing to hurt Hil­lary, help Trump, what­ever it is — it’s kind of the glass half full, glass half empty,” Con­away said.

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

Ac­cord­ing to Con­away, the GOP re­port will agree with the in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment on most other de­tails, in­clud­ing that Rus­sians did med­dle in the elec­tion.

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