According to the House Intelligence Committee, there is no evidence that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
The committee, led by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), released a statement on Monday saying that they had uncovered “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” Conaway — who had replaced Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) following the latter’s significant breaches of conduct — added that, in addition to the one-page statement, the panel had also completed a substantial draft report, which is yet to be released.
The committee’s statement on Monday, however, went beyond just absolving the Trump campaign of any suspected collusion with Moscow, even going so far as to dispute the U.S. Intelligence Community’s findings that Russia had preferred a Trump presidency to that of Hillary Clinton. The statement also added that the Clinton campaign had obtained “anti-Trump research” from Russian sources, an apparent nod to the disputed Steele memo.
The draft report will now likely go to the minority staff on the committee, currently led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). However, it remains possible — or likely — that the Democrats will push to release a second, competing report. Democrats have complained that a number of key witnesses still have not been interviewed by the committee, and that Republicans on the committee didn’t bother to use subpoenas in order to obtain pertinent information.
“By ending its oversight role in the only authroized 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,” Schiff said Monday evening in an extensive statement. “During the first open hearing of our investigation, I asked whether we could conduct this investigation in the kind of thorough and nonpartisan manner that the seriousness of the issues merited… Regrettably, that challenge proved too much.”
Further, Republicans cut short the witness interview portion of the investigation — something Schiff only learned of on Monday afternoon. Among the witnesses who were reportedly not called before the committee were Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. Both Manafort and Flynn have been targeted by the special counsel’s office for dissembling about their ties to pro-Russian operatives, as has former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos — another individual the committee didn’t interview.
“Democrats say the committee has raced through its final interviews, while allowing witnesses to pick and choose which questions they answer,” CNN reported.
While the committee’s statement was relatively straightforward — or at least lacked any of the colorful commentary associated with the White House — Conaway told reporters that claims of collusion, despite any number of strange meetings and piling guilty pleas, were something found only in fiction.
“Only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller,” Conaway said.