The Slatest

Republicans Say They Will End House Intelligence Committee’s Russia Investigation

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee will end its investigation into Russian election meddling, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) told reporters Monday. After a year of work calling 70 witnesses and reviewing more than 300,000 pages of documents, Republicans on the committee say they have found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. “We found no evidence of collusion. We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings,” Conaway, the ranking Republican on the committee, told reporters Monday afternoon. “But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take these series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a fiction and turn it into a page-turner, spy thriller.”

“Inadvertent contacts” is a particularly generous representation of the Trump campaign’s known interactions with Russian operatives, but this rosy view and increased partisan rankling has been part of what appears to be a concerted push by the Republican members on the committee over the past several months. The committee’s work had essentially ground to a halt of late as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who technically recused himself from the investigation because of his role in orchestrated efforts by the White House to undermine the investigation last year, injected himself back into the investigation by writing a memo seeking to discredit the sourcing and the credibility of the investigation. The strategy largely worked; the committee only interviewed three witnesses in 2018, and despite the expansiveness of the Special Counsel investigation, the House Intel committee steered its probe in the opposite direction and never interviewed a number of crucial witnesses at all, including: former campaign head Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, as well as former National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Each of these aides has been indicted by Robert Mueller; even still, the committee said it’s ready to wrap things up and will interview no more witnesses, Rep. Conaway told reporters.

Conway said “committee Republicans agreed with the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election, but they broke with the agencies on one crucial point: that the Russians had favored Mr. Trump’s candidacy,” according to the New York Times. “Mr. Conaway said the committee would turn over a 150-page draft report to Democrats on Tuesday for review and comment. The document includes more than 25 recommendations related to election and cyber security, counterintelligence practices and campaign finance rules. He said the committee was preparing a separate, in-depth analysis of the intelligence community’s assessment.”