Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - Page 7 News List

No collusion: US House panel report

‘FICTION SPY THRILLER’:The panel rejected a 2017 report by intelligence agencies, saying that there was not sufficient evidence that Russia was trying to help Trump


Republicans on the US House Intelligence Committee have completed a draft report concluding there was no collusion or coordination between US President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, a finding that enraged Democrats who had not yet seen the document.

After a yearlong investigation, Representative Mike Conaway on Monday announced that the committee has finished interviewing witnesses and was to share the report with Democrats for the first time yesterday.

“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway told reporters. “We found perhaps some bad judgement, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgement 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.”

Conaway previewed some of the conclusions, but said the public would not see the report until Democrats have reviewed it and the intelligence community has decided what information can become public, which could take weeks.

In addition, the draft challenges an assessment made by intelligence agencies in January last year that Russian meddling was an effort to help Trump.

House Intelligence Committee officials said they spent hundreds of hours reviewing raw source material used by the intelligence services in the assessment and that it did not meet the appropriate standards to make the claim about helping Trump.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement soon after the announcement, saying it stood by the intelligence community’s findings and would review the report’s findings.

The report would agree with the intelligence assessment on most other details, Conaway said, including that Russians did meddle in the election.

It would also detail Russian cyberattacks on US institutions during the election and the use of social media to sow discord, and show a pattern of Russian attacks on European allies — information that could be redacted in the final report, Conaway added.

It would also blame officials in former US president Barack Obama’s administration for a “lackluster” response and look at leaks from the intelligence community to the media, in addition to at least 25 recommendations on how to improve election security, respond to cyberattacks and improve counterintelligence efforts, he said.

Top Democrat on the panel Representative Adam Schiff called the development a “tragic milestone” and said history would judge them harshly.

“[Republicans] proved unwilling to subpoena documents like phone records, text messages, bank records and other key records so that we might determine the truth about the most significant attack on our democratic institutions in history,” Schiff said.

The report is also expected to turn the subject of collusion toward the campaign of former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying that an anti-Trump dossier compiled by a former British spy and paid for by Democrats was one way that Russians tried to influence the election.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to have a bipartisan report out in the coming weeks dealing with election security, in addition to findings on the more controversial issue of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia at a later date.

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