The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Russian government and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump is ending, according to a New York Times report:
Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, who is leading the investigation, said committee Republicans agreed with the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election, but they broke with the agencies on one crucial point: that the Russians had favored Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
“The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in ’16, and we think they will do that in the future,” Mr. Conaway said. But, he added, “We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
The committee’s handling of the investigation has been harshly criticized from the very beginning, as the actual chair of the House Intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes of California, had to “step aside” from the investigation last April after the House Ethics Committee started an investigation into whether or not he had disclosed classified information. He was cleared by the Ethics committee in December.
Even though he “stepped aside,” however, Nunes continued involving himself in the investigation, signing warrants and writing a controversial memo released last month which alleged misconduct by the FBI in its handling of the investigation. (Nunes, by the way, had also previously been a member of the Trump transition team.)
Although Conaway said the committee had found “perhaps some bad judgments, inappropriate meetings,” he compared the idea that these bad judgements and inappropriate meetings indicated some sort of collusion was a “some sort of fiction.”
“Only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take these series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a fiction and turn it into a page-turner, spy thriller,” Conaway told reporters.
Conaway said the committee would give the committee’s Democrats a 150-page draft report for review, and that “he hoped to work expeditiously with American intelligence agencies to declassify the report and make it public.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the same issue is still ongoing, as is the Special Counsel investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller.
UPDATE, 03/12/2018, 7:05 P.M ET: The AP reports that not only does the Committee’s draft report absolve the campaign of collusion, but it’s “expected” that it’ll criticize both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign:
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.
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.”
UPDATE, 03/12/2018, 8:55 P.M. ET: Trump weighs in using all caps:
UPDATE, 3/12/2018, 10:35 P.M. ET: Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the decision in a two-page statement and tweeted that the “minority [party]’s work continues”: