Trump campaign collusion with Russia dismissed
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 pleased the White House, but enraged Democrats, who had not yet seen the document.
After a year-long investigation, Texas Republican Mike Conaway said on Monday that the committee had finished interviewing witnesses and would share the report with Democrats for the first time yesterday. Conaway is the Republican leading the House probe, one of several on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway told reporters, suggesting that those who believed there was collusion were reading too many spy novels. “We found perhaps some bad judgement, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgement 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 some sort of spy thriller.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted his own headline of the report: “The House intelligence committee has – after a 14-month-long, in-depth investigation – found no evidence of collusion or co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential elections.”
Conaway previewed some of the conclusions, but said the public would 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 far different conclusions.
The draft also 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 elections to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton’s candi- dacy and help 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 it did not meet the appropriate standards to make the claim about helping Trump. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak publicly about the intelligence material.
Conaway said there would be a second report dealing with the intelligence assessment and its credibility. The office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement soon after the announcement, saying it stood by the intelligence community’s findings.
DNI spokesperson Brian Hale said the office would review the findings of the committee’s report.