MUELLER KEEPS FISHING
The House Intelligence Committee has released findings from its upcoming report on the Trump-Russia affair — and its main conclusion is that it has discovered no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
"We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians," the committee said in a one-page summary of its findings released Monday afternoon.
In addition, the committee took issue with the Intelligence Community assessment of Russian motivations in the 2016 election. The committee agrees with the assessment that the Russians did, in fact, try to interfere — the findings cite "Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord." But the committee disagrees with the Intelligence Community judgment that Russian leader Vladimir Putin specifically tried to help Donald Trump win the election.
The committee's findings say investigators came to "concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment's judgments, except with respect to Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump."
On the question of collusion, Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who has formally run the committee's probe, told reporters Monday that, "We found no evidence of collusion. We found perhaps bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment 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, whatever, and weave that into a some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller," Conaway continued. "But we're not dealing with fiction, we're dealing with facts. And we found no evidence of any collusion, of anything that people were actually doing, other than taking a meeting they shouldn't have taken or inadvertently being in the same building."
The mentions of "taking a meeting" were clear references to the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials talked to a group of Russians who promised, but did not deliver, damaging information on Hillary Clinton. "To be pretty blunt, that meeting should not have taken place," Conway said.
The collusion question has been the most basic, and the most contentious, of the entire Trump-Russia investigation. After this or that revelation — the emergence of the Trump dossier, the June 9 meeting, the plea bargain of George Papadopoulos, the activities of Carter Page, the analysis of Facebook ads — partisans on both sides claimed that collusion had been either proved or not.
The House committee findings are still partisan — they were released under the leadership of the committee's controversial chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, are the work of Republicans on the committee, and are sure to be disputed by Democrats, who will come up with their own version of events. But they are the first official report ruling out collusion in the 2016 campaign.
On the question of Putin's motivation, Conaway said Republican investigators viewed the same intelligence that the Intelligence Community did in making its assessment. But they differed with the IC, not on the fact that Russia acted, but on Vladimir Putin's purposes.Read More...