House Intel finds 'no evidence of collusion' between Trump campaign and Russia
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said Monday it found "no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians," as its Russia investigation starts to come to a close.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who has led the committee's bipartisan investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election, announced Monday that the panel had completed a more than 150-page draft report, with its initial findings and recommendations.
"We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians," the committee said in a statement Monday.
"We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians."- House Intelligence Committee, Majority Staff
The report also noted that based on its investigation which lasted more than a year, the committee disagreed with the intelligence community's assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a "supposed preference" for then-candidate Donald Trump.
"We disagree with the Intelligence Community's position that Putin favored Trump," Conaway told Fox News Monday. He said he had "no contact" with the White House during the probe.
The majority staff on the committee is expected to send the draft report to the minority staff, led by ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Tuesday. Once the draft report is adopted by committee Democrats, the report will be submitted to the intelligence community for a declassification review, and following that process, will be released to the public, officials said, though the timeline at this point is unknown.
"The report's completion will signify the closure of one chapter in the Committee's robust oversight of the threat posed by Moscow-which began well before the investigation and will continue thereafter," Conaway said.
A source close to the committee leadership, though, told Fox News that the Democrats on the committee likely would disagree with the majority report.
The draft report included 40 other findings, including how Russians used social media to "sow discord" in 2015 and 2016, a "lackluster" pre-election response to Russian measures, 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."
The report also included more than 25 recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to improve election security, U.S. government response to cyberattacks, campaign finance transparency, and counterintelligence practices related to political campaigns and unauthorized disclosures.
A committee source told Fox News that the "investigation" portion of the probe was complete, meaning the committee would not interview any additional witnesses as part of its effort.
"I'm sure [committee Democrats] will disagree with bringing the interview phase to a close," Conaway told Fox News. "I'm sure they will have specific folks they wanted to interview."
Conaway said that the Republicans on the committee wanted to interview former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but said Schiff "wanted to delay us." Once Manafort was indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the committee decided not to call him for an interview.
Conaway also said that he did not "anticipate" pursuing contempt proceedings against former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon or any other witnesses who did not respond favorably to the committee's questioning.
Conaway took over the probe when House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., stepped down in April 2017 after he was accused of making "unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law regulations, or other standards of conduct," according to the House Ethics Committee which investigated the allegations. Nunes supporters at the time said that it was a "clever political trick" by the Democrats.
Republicans on the committee, though, have expanded their investigation of the Trump dossier, seeking answers from Obama administration officials, including a former staffer for Vice President Joe Biden. Nunes sent a questionnaire to the former Biden staffer, whose husband worked for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier, seeking answers to when the administration was made aware of the dossier.