A House panel investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has ended its probe, concluding no evidence exists collusion occurred between the Trump campaign and Russia and the Kremlin sought to favor neither Trump or his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.
Earlier on Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee revealed they had wrapped up the interview segment of the investigation and were in the midst of writing a final report.
“After more than a year, the committee has finished its Russia investigation and will now work on completing our report. We hope our findings and recommendations will be useful for improving security and integrity for the 2018 midterm elections,” said panel chair Devin Nunes.
In its year-long inquiry, the committee has interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including some of President Trump’s closest advisers.
According to a 150-page draft, Republicans on the panel deduced Russia took “active measures” to meddle in the 2016 presidential election and would continue to interfere in future U.S. elections.
The report highlights contacts between U.S. intelligence officials and members of media during the campaign, associations the committee described as “problematic.”
However, the draft also states the committee found no evidence Russia formed an alliance with the Trump campaign or specifically sought to boost his electoral prospects.
Addressing reporters, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who has headed the probe, cited the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr. and Trump aides met with a Russian attorney with links to the Kremlin as an “inappropriate meeting” and exercising “bad judgement.”
“That meeting should never have taken place,” Conaway said. “But we can’t find anything that leads us to a collusion string.”
Democrats on the Intelligence panel had harsh words for the GOP: Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who has led the opposition party’s effort on the panel, said:
“While the majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been under great pressure to end the investigation, it is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch.”
“By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the majority has placed the interests of protecting the president over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly. If the Russians do have leverage over the president of the U.S., the majority has simply decided it would rather not know.”
Speculation persists Democrats on the committee will release their own final report to rebut the GOP final analysis of the investigation.
Via Twitter, President Trump, who has consistently denied collusion with the Kremlin occurred, expressed his approval with the House committee’s decision to conclude the probe.
THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
The House panel concluding its inquiry leaves the Senate Intelligence Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continuing to look into the matter.
The House intelligence panel’s decision to end its investigation came at the same moment in which it has been learned Mueller is nearing completion of the obstruction portion of his investigation, but will temporarily store it away to finish other sections of his inquiry.
According to sources familiar with Mueller’s investigation, the special counsel favors focusing on alleged collusion and the attempted hacking of the DNC.
[Business Insider] [Washington Examiner] [Bloomberg] [Photo courtesy RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty]