(WASHINGTON) — Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are sharply disagreeing with Republicans on the panel who say they don’t see any evidence of collusion or coordination between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, said Tuesday that he believes there is “significant evidence” of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, though he couldn’t say if there was criminal wrongdoing.
Republicans on the committee announced Monday that they’d completed a draft report and they saw no evidence of collusion. Schiff, who saw the GOP report for the first time on Tuesday, said Democrats on the committee would try to continue the investigation where possible and would write their own report to lay out conclusions from the intelligence panel’s yearlong investigation into Russian meddling.
The GOP report “misleadingly characterizes events, and paints a portrait and tells a story that could not have been better written if it was written in the White House itself,” Schiff said.
Trump enthusiastically praised the draft Republican report, telling reporters Tuesday morning that the White House is “very, very happy” with the GOP conclusions.
“It was a powerful decision that left no doubt and I want to thank the House intelligence committee,” Trump said.
Democrats have said for some time that they believed Republicans weren’t conducting a serious investigation. Schiff on Tuesday released a 22-page report detailing threads that Democrats still believe the committee should pursue and witnesses they still want to hear from. Those include White House officials, campaign officials and people in the intelligence community.
As examples of evidence of coordination, Schiff cited multiple contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, including a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 and information passed on to an Australian diplomat by a former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopolous, that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Schiff said Democrats would try to release all committee interview transcripts in their report. He also signaled that he would reopen or begin certain lines of inquiry if Democrats retake the majority of the House this November.
Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the Russia probe, previewed some of the GOP report’s findings on Monday, but said the public will not see the full document until Democrats have reviewed it and the intelligence community has decided what information can be released, a process that could take weeks.
“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway said, suggesting that those who believe there was collusion are reading too many spy novels. “We found perhaps some 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 or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page-turner, spy thriller.”
In addition to the statement on coordination with Russians, Republicans said the draft challenges an assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, waged a covert influence campaign to interfere in the election …read more
Source:: Time – Politics