House Intelligence Committee Republicans closed their investigation of Russian election interference Monday, declaring they found no evidence that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign cooperated with the Kremlin, a conclusion Trump quickly celebrated — but which Democrats called premature and even misleading.
Soon after the Republican announcement, Trump triumphantly claimed vindication on Twitter. “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,” he wrote.
The House Republicans also said that a 150-page report they prepared — without consulting their Democratic colleagues — contradicts the U.S. intelligence community’s firm conclusion that the goal of the Russian government effort was to boost Trump’s campaign.
“We don’t think that’s supported by the underlying data,” Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the probe, said in a phone interview. Conaway told reporters Monday that some Trump campaign figures may have shown bad judgment in meeting with Kremlin-linked figures but that the meetings had not amounted to collusion.
Conaway said dozens of interview and an exhaustive review of the intelligence agencies’ findings suggests the Russian goal was to sow confusion and discord, not to help Trump. He added that a second report on that specific issue would be forthcoming.
Trump is sure to welcome that opinion as well. He is said to resent suggestions that Russian meddling might undermine the legitimacy of his election. And he has insisted the Kremlin would have no reason to root for his victory, despite the fact that Trump repeatedly spoke of befriending Russian President Vladimir Putin and repairing fractured U.S.-Russia relations.
Russia’s embassy in Washington celebrated the House GOP findings on Twitter by directly quoting Conaway: “All ‘Russia investigations’ (not only in the US) are destined to end as [Conaway] brilliantly concluded: ‘only Tom Clancy could take this series of inadvertent contacts, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a spy thriller that could go out there.'”