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

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Or, as Trump would put it…

Yup. And except for the word “in-depth”, I guess what he tweets is true. (Well, also, the committee only worked six months out of the “14 month long” investigation)

While special counsel Robert Mueller’s work may seem to be reaching a boiling point, the House Intelligence Committee as thrown in the towel, as far as their part in the Russia probe.

On Monday evening, they released their findings.

“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.

They also decided to give the president a bit of ammunition in their fight to discredit the nation’s intelligence community.

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.

Rep. Mike Conway said that they found bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, and inappropriate judgment in taking meetings, but no actual collusion.

In other words, the Trump train was staffed by idiots.

Speaking of idiots…

“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.”

Yes, we can assume he’s talking about Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump Tower meeting with Russians.

The findings and release were led by Chairman Devin Nunes – a rabid Trump loyalist – and passed along very partisan lines. In fact, Democrats on the committee were not even informed of the announcement:

In a sign of how badly relations between the two sides have broken down, Republicans on the committee briefed reporters on their initial findings on Monday before notifying their Democratic partners what was coming.

As an aside, note how that is framed. After all we’ve seen from Republicans on this committee, including failure to even inform Democrats of this decision, we are told that “relations between the two sides have broken down.” Both siderism is alive and well.

Here is a summary of the initial findings from Republicans:

* A pattern of Russian attacks on America’s European allies;
* Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord;
* A lackluster pre-election response to Russian active measures;
* Concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump;
* We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians;
* How anti-Trump research made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign; and
* Problematic contacts between senior Intelligence Community officials and the media.

Republicans can’t even admit that Russia’s interference included efforts to support Trump, much less that the campaign colluded with their efforts.

Nunes has been working to undermine, and ultimately shut down the investigation from the very beginning, even consulting with the White House early on, attempting to present a case for stopping it before it started.

Ultimately, he was unsuccessful, but he and some fellow Republicans have worked overtime to discredit the investigation.

The idea that the investigation was “in-depth” is profoundly wrong.

In their 73 interviews—many of them conducted three at a time and miles away from Washington so that no congressman need worry about hearing the answers—the House Committee didn’t talk to Paul Manafort, the chair of the Trump campaign. They didn’t talk to Rick Gates, the former number two person in the campaign and deputy chair of Trump’s transition team. They didn’t talk to Michael Flynn, who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and led the “Lock her up” chant at the Republican Convention. They didn’t talk to George Papadopoulus, who represented Trump to multiple governments around the world.

Of those people that the committee did interview, several were allowed to pick and choose which questions they would answer or answer nothing at all. Hope Hicks, Donald Trump’s closest assistant and press secretary during the campaign got through the day with a few sentences. Corey Lewandoski, who ran the campaign before Manafort came on stage, was also allowed to both select his own questions, and to refuse to answer any he didn’t like. Campaign CEO Steve Bannon not only got to write his own list of questions, but answered each of them with the single word “No.”

The actions of the Nunes-led committee—failing to question the most central witnesses, allowing witnesses to claim a privilege that the House does not recognize, failing to subpoena documents and records, refusing to hold uncooperative witnesses in contempt, allowing witnesses to actually write their own list of questions, issuing partisan statements without even notifying the minority that a statement was in the works—all that looks bad. The only thing worse is the actions of Paul Ryan.

Because what Ryan has done is absolute proof that Republicans will never, ever take action against Trump.

Furthermore, they made the committee itself, and the HOUSE itself, into a laughing stock.

At least one Republican on the committee, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) admitted that it was all a joke.

Rooney argued that the investigation needed to end because the committee was losing its credibility.

“We’ve gone completely off the rails and now we are just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” Rooney said. “We’ve lost all credibility and we are going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately.”

And THAT may be the reason why it is probably best that the House Intel Committee just exit the stage.  History will not be kind to it.