The House Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted final report Friday on its yearlong Russia investigation documenting its previously reported conclusion that it found no evidence of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the Republican-authored report confirms that from “day one, the ‘Russian collusion’ investigation into the Trump campaign was an empty case.”
“It is a house built on sand,” the congressman said.
Meadows urged Robert Mueller to “wrap up” his special counsel investigation into alleged Russian “collusion.”
The House intel report, released over the objections of minority Democratic Party members, said the committee “found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
However, the committee said it did find “poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaign.”
President Trump, speaking Friday alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office, said the report is “strong, powerful, conclusive.”
The Mueller investigation, he said, is “a witch hunt.”
Glancing over at Merkel, Trump said: “There was no collusion with Russia, if you could believe this one. She probably can’t believe it. Who can?”
The report apparently supports previous media reports that FBI agents did not believe Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn lied to them. Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to making false statements.
Meadows said the “stark lack of evidence raises serious concerns as to whether there was any legitimate foundation to begin an investigation in the first place.”
“And, perhaps most troubling, we now know more information about the nefarious role the Clinton campaign and Obama intelligence officials appeared to have played in using the ‘salacious and unverified’ Russian dossier to both spy on the Trump campaign and to leak unfounded allegations to the media,” Meadows said.
“There is far more evidence of wrongdoing on the part of James Comey, James Clapper, and the Obama Justice Department than there ever has been in the collusion case.”
The congressman emphasized its “time for the special counsel investigation to end.”
“Robert Mueller must wrap this up and bring it to a close. It is time to put the focus back on what’s actually important in America,” said Meadows.
The leader of the committee investigation, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who took over after chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., recused himself, said he was “extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions” of the report made by the intelligence community.
“Many of the redactions include information that is publicly available, such as witness names and information previously declassified,” he said in a statement.
“I will continue to challenge the IC’s many unnecessary redactions with the hopes of releasing more of the report in the coming months.”
Along with alleged links between the Russian government and the Trump and Clinton campaigns, the investigation examined Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the U.S. government’s response to the meddling, and leaks of classified information.
It found Russian state actors were responsible for the “dissemination of documents and communications stolen from U.S. political organizations.”
The Russian government used the media company RT “to advance its malign influence campaign” and social media platforms such as Facebook to “sow social discord and to undermine the electoral process,” the report said.
Nevertheless, there was “no evidence that Trump campaign associates were involved in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign-related emails, although Trump associates had numerous ill-advised contacts with WikiLeaks.”
The committee said, however, the Trump campaign exercised “poor judgment” in agreeing to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who falsely claimed to have political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Regarding the Democrats, the committee “found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials.”
Some of the “opposition research” was used to produce 16 memos that comprise the so-called Steele “dossier,” the report said.
In addition, the committee concluded former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper provided “inconsistent testimony to the committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.”
Democrats vow to continue Russia probe
The committee announced key findings of its investigation last month, prompting criticism from the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who accused Republicans of “prematurely” ending the investigation.
In a statement Friday, Schiff charged that Republicans on the intel panel shut down the probe so they could focus on “counter-investigations designed to serve the President’s interests.”
He said the Democrats on the panel are continuing to work on the Russia investigation.
“We will continue our investigation using every means at our disposal; to do otherwise would ignore our responsibility to conduct meaningful oversight and insure that the Russians do not possess leverage over the President of the United States,” he said.
In a minority report also issued Friday, Schiff said he and his colleagues “correct the record on a raft of misleading conclusions, insinuations, attempts to explain away inconvenient facts, and arguments meant to protect the President and his campaign found in the Republican report.”
Schiff wants to release the transcripts of interviews so the public can see the “evidence for themselves and judge accordingly.”
The committee’s sharp partisan divide was illustrated by the counter-memos issued in February regarding the anti-Trump dossier that was used by FBI and Justice Department officials under President Obama to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign volunteer.
The Republican memo cited then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s testimony that the dossier, though filled with unverified claims against President Trump obtained from Russian sources, was essential to obtaining the warrant. In addition, the top-secret FISA court was never informed that the dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.