House Democrats vow to continue Russia probe, release report on their findings
(WASHINGTON) — Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday vowed to continue their inquiry into allegations of links between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite Republicans’ announcement Monday that they had found no evidence of collusion in the probe.
Blasting Republicans’ decision to “prematurely shut down” the committee’s investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the top Democrat on the committee, insisted that there is “significant evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“What I cannot say because I do not know what [Special counsel ]Bob Mueller knows, is whether that evidence rises to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy to violate US election laws,” he said. 5
While they will lack the ability to compel testimony and production of documents and information as the minority, Democrats plan to write their own minority report dissenting from the majority’s conclusions – a rebuttal that will also include new information related to collusion.
“We will be setting out the facts that we know to date, to the degree that the intelligence community will allow us to make those public,” Schiff said. “There are individuals who want to cooperate with our committee and share information, and will continue to do so.”
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the Republican leading the investigation, summarized Republicans’ conclusions to reporters Monday, and said Republicans had completed a draft report to share with Democrats. In addition to no evidence of collusion, Conaway said Republicans also disputed the assertion from the intelligence community that Russia favored Trump over Hillary Clinton.
“At the end of the day we believe that the broader evidence was that they favored her over him,” he said Monday, adding that the Kremlin “didn’t think he would win” and aimed to weaken a potential Clinton administration.
Brian Hale, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement on Monday that the intelligence community stands by the January assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign to influence and U.S. presidential election.
“The Intelligence Community stands by its January 2017 assessment, ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.’ We will review the HPSCI report findings,” he said.
The announcement from congressional Republicans came as the Senate Intelligence Committee continues its own bipartisan Russian investigation, and follows special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russians for efforts to disrupt and election and boost the Trump campaign.
The president seized on Republicans’ plans to wrap up the House probe Monday, tweeting that they had “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 ELECTION.”
Schiff said Tuesday that the GOP draft report is “not a serious work” and accused Republicans of cherry-picking intelligence to suit their conclusions.
“It misleadingly characterizes events and paints a portrait and tells a story that couldn’t have been better written than if it was written in the White House,” Schiff said.
Democrats released a 21-page status report on the investigation Tuesday night that described “outstanding lines of inquiry” and listed more than 30 witnesses Democrats still want to interview, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House adviser Stephen Miller, among other Trump officials and associates.
Schiff said money laundering remains a “key issue” the committee has not investigated. Democrats say Republicans have refused their calls to subpoena Deutsche Bank for financial records pertaining to Trump.
“If evidence of money laundering is leverage the Russians have with the president of the United States, we need to know,” he said.
Democrats hope to include transcripts of all the committee’s witness interviews with the release of their report. They did not lay out a timetable for the release of their findings Tuesday, and also suggested that the investigation could continue into the next Congress if Democrats retake the House.
“If the majority in the Congress changes hands, we’ll have to evaluate where the investigation is at that point, what has the Senate been allowed to do, what has the special counsel been allowed to do, and determine if there is work that is still undone,” Schiff said.
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