Draft GOP re­port: No co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Trump and Rus­sia

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS - By Mary Clare Jalonick

WASHINGTON » Repub­li­cans on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee have com­pleted a draft re­port con­clud­ing there was no col­lu­sion or co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and Rus­sia, a find­ing that is sure to please the White House and en­rage panel Democrats.

Af­ter a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Texas Rep. Mike Con­away an­nounced Mon­day that the com­mit­tee has fin­ished in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses and will share the re­port with Democrats on Tues­day. Con­away is the Repub­li­can lead­ing the House probe, one of sev­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions on Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tions.

Con­away pre­viewed sev­eral of the re­port’s con­clu­sions.

“We found no ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion,” Con­away told re­porters Mon­day, 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 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 pub­lic will not see the re­port 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 much dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions.

In ad­di­tion to the state­ment on co­or­di­na­tion with Rus­sians, the draft picks apart a cen­tral as­sess­ment made by the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity shortly af­ter the 2016 elec­tion — that Rus­sian med­dling in the cam­paign was in­tended to help Trump and sup­port Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton. Com­mit­tee aides said they spent hun­dreds of hours re­view­ing raw source ma­te­rial used by the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices to make that claim and that it did not meet the ap­pro­pri­ate stan­dards.

The aides spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the in­tel­li­gence ma­te­rial. Con­away said there will be a sec­ond re­port just deal­ing with the in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment and its cred­i­bil­ity.

Democrats have crit­i­cized Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee for short­en­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, point­ing to mul­ti­ple con­tacts be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia and say­ing they have seen far too few wit­nesses to make any judg­ment on col­lu­sion. The Democrats and Repub­li­cans have openly fought through­out the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with Democrats sug­gest­ing a cover-up for a Repub­li­can president and one GOP mem­ber of the panel call­ing the probe “poi­son” for the pre­vi­ously bi­par­ti­san panel.

Ac­cord­ing to Con­away, the re­port will agree with the in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment on most 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 Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion for a “lack­lus­ter” re­sponse and look at leaks from the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity to the me­dia.

It will in­clude at least 25 rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing how to im­prove elec­tion se­cu­rity, re­spond to cy­ber­at­tacks and im­prove coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence ef­forts.

The re­port is also ex­pected to turn the sub­ject of col­lu­sion to­ward the Clin­ton cam­paign, say­ing an anti-Trump dossier com­piled by a for­mer Bri­tish spy and paid for by Democrats was one way that Rus­sians tried to in­flu­ence the elec­tion. Con­away did not sug­gest that Clin­ton know­ingly co­or­di­nated with the Rus­sians, but said the dossier clearly “would have hurt him and helped her.”

AN­DREW HARNIK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this photo, Rep. Mike Con­away, R-Texas, left, at the Capi­tol in Washington. Repub­li­cans on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee have com­pleted a draft re­port con­clud­ing there was no col­lu­sion or co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and Rus­sia. The find­ing is sure to please the White House and en­rage panel Democrats who have not yet seen the doc­u­ment. Af­ter a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Con­away says the com­mit­tee has fin­ished do­ing wit­ness in­ter­views.

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