House Intel Committee Found No Evidence Of Collusion Because It Wasn’t Looking For Any

The head of the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation admitted yesterday that the committee was never focused on any potential evidence of collusion.

Just over a week ago, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee ended their committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after a process that, from the outside, never appeared to be all that serious about investigating either the issues surrounding that issue or the allegations of any contacts or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In the wake of that announcement, several Republican members of the committee came forward to claim that their investigation had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, a claim which President Trump boasted about on Twitter:

The reality, of course, is that the committee reached no such conclusion and there’s a good reason for that. As one of the top Republicans on the Committee admitted yesterday during an appearance on one of the Sunday morning shows, they simply weren’t investigating collusion at all:

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said Sunday the House Intelligence Committee was not tasked with investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, despite the committee issuing a report last week stating it found no evidence of collusion in the 2016 election.

“Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea,” Conaway said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“So we really weren’t focused on that direction.”

(…)

Conaway led the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-Calif.) recused himself.Last week, Conaway announced the end of the committee’s probe and laid out a number of conclusions reached by GOP members in their initial report. Among those conclusions was the assertion that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.The report drew strong criticism from committee Democrats, who said the committee came to no such conclusion.

Conaway on Sunday acknowledged the committee did not interview former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and other key figures, because he didn’t want to overlap with special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation.

“We’re trying to stay away from the Mueller investigation and not confuse that or hurt it one way or the other,” he said.

When asked if he regrets that the committee attempted to draw a conclusion on whether the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign, Conaway denied that the committee drew a conclusion at all.

“What we said is we found no evidence of it,” he said. “That’s a different statement. We found no evidence of collusion.”

After the Congressman’s appearance, one of his spokespersons attempted to walk back what the Congressman said, but in the process seemed to just raise more question:

“The scope of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia Investigation covered four parameters, including if Russian active measures included links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, or any other U.S. person,” said Emily Hytha, a spokeswoman for Conaway. “As Mr. Conaway announced on Monday and has stated repeatedly, including on ‘Meet the Press,’ the Committee did not find evidence of collusion. We thoroughly investigated all four bipartisan parameters within our scope, and believe we have the information we need to present the American people with the facts we’ve uncovered.”

What Hytha’s attempt to clarify what her boss said on national television doesn’t say, of course, is what, if anything, the committee actually did to investigate the collusion side of the investigation. As Conway himself admits, the committee did not interview former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos or others associated with the campaign who were known or believed to have had contact with Russian officials nor does it appear to have met with or discussed collusion or contact with Russian officials with anyone else associated with the campaign. Indeed, one could say that the House Committee deliberately and consciously decided not to focus on these elements of the Russia investigation. Instead, it seemed more focused on undermining the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and bringing to light information that was favorable to the Administration and to the claim that the entire investigation by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation was tainted by bias and politics.

The best example of this, of course, can be seen in the circumstances surrounding the memoranda prepared by the committee’s Republican majority and Democratic minority with respect to the issues surrounding the FISA warrant issued with regard to Trump campaign official Carter Page in October 2016. Early in February, after being authorized by the President to do so notwithstanding the strong opposition of the intelligence community, Republicans on the committee released a memo that purported to summarize that FISA warrant, claiming that the F.B.I. had not presented the FISA Judge with accurate and complete information regarding the basis for the warrant against Page, which included a dossier prepared by a former MI6 agent. After the memo was released, President Trump proclaimed that the memo “totally” vindicated him with respect to the Russia investigation, a claim that the White House repeated in its initial comments after the memo was released. In reality, this was not true at all and it was soon discovered that the memo contains significant misinformation and outright lies. As a result, the memorandum was a complete dud politically, and whatever credibility it had was further destroyed when the Democratic minority’s rebuttal memorandum was released several weeks later. What this incident with the memorandum revealed, though, was the extent to which the Republican majority on the committee was more interested in protecting the Administration than it was in finding the truth about what happened between the Trump campaign and Russia.

On top of all of that, we now learn that the committee wasn’t even looking for evidence of collusion, regardless of what it’s official mandate might have been. After all, it’s hard to find something you’re consciously not looking for.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, Russia Investigation, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mister Bluster says:

    The REPUBLICAN investigation did not look for evidence of collusion because their leader Kim Jong Trump to whom they owe all fealty has told them he believes Vladimir Putin.

    Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the US presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman initially said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.
    “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose.
    “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ ” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
    “I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.




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  2. al-Ameda says:

    This …

    Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said Sunday the House Intelligence Committee was not tasked with investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, despite the committee issuing a report last week stating it found no evidence of collusion in the 2016 election.

    “Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea,” Conaway said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

    “So we really weren’t focused on that direction.”
    ……..
    We’re trying to stay away from the Mueller investigation and not confuse that or hurt it one way or the other,” he said.

    When asked if he regrets that the committee attempted to draw a conclusion on whether the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign, Conaway denied that the committee drew a conclusion at all.

    “What we said is we found no evidence of it,” he said. “That’s a different statement. We found no evidence of collusion.”

    it seems clear that this … this, completely exonerates the President, right? Conaway said all of that with a straight face, almost as if he’s been dissembling most of the 13 years he’s been in Congress.




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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump is treason. Everybody makes their own choice of which side they come down on.




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  4. gVOR08 says:

    I own a retirement home in FL while residing in OH. By coincidence both my OH Representative (sic) Brad Wenstrup and my FL district’s Rep, Tom Rooney, are on the Intel Committee. I’ve wasted time writing letters to both bitching about Nunes and the work of the committee. I see Rooney’s quitting (perhaps over this, perhaps one step ahead of something else) and complained about the committee. Wenstrup seems to be just maintaining a low profile and hoping this somehow goes away. I fear it goes beyond not looking. Had they tripped over evidence Nunes would have thrown a tarp over it and run screaming to the WH to collude in hiding it. I suppose there’s no hope of impeaching Nunes while Ryan’s in charge.




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  5. Mister Bluster says:

    I own a retirement home in FL…

    Sure hope it’s not to close to Mar-A-Lago.
    And you know you don’t want to be there when Trump hears the greeting
    “Vladimir Putin says hello.”*

    *Apologies to Francis Ford Coppola




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  6. Mister Bluster says:

    too close to…

    Apparently the edit function is not working.




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  7. Gustopher says:

    I frequently find no evidence of things that I am not looking for. If you carefully don’t ask questions, you will avoid all sorts of uncomfortable answers.




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