United States intelligence committee probe finds no Trump-Russia collusion

Saturday, 28 Apr, 2018

The House intelligence committee concluded its Russian Federation investigation on Friday by releasing a heavily redacted copy of its full report clearing Donald Trump's campaign of any wrongdoing.

The committee found that "Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the US presidential election" in 2015.

Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is chairman of the committee, told reporters that he hoped a more transparent version of the report could be released later.

The report's authors attempt to equate the actions of the Trump and Clinton campaigns, faulting both for "poor judgment and ill-considered actions".

"It's a witch hunt that's all it is". Friday's report echoes statements Republican lawmakers gave to the media last month. The probe, they insisted, is not over yet. The summary also said that the committee agreed with a number of the intelligence community's prior judgments on the matter, "except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump".

Flynn met again with Kislyak shortly before Trump took office - a meeting that led to his unceremonious ouster from the White House after it was revealed he had lied to the FBI about it. Flynn subsequently pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

The House Intelligence Committee report on Russian election interference includes a range of recommendations for protecting ballots.

It called contacts between Russian officials and campaign aides "ill-advised" and said at least one person might have given answers in legal testimony that were "incomplete".

In February, a U.S. federal jury charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies as part of an investigation into alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

In a statement, Rep. Mike Conaway, (R-TX), who has been leading the investigation, said he was "extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions" made by the intelligence agencies.

The report largely confirms the findings of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation was assessed to be responsible for cyberattacks on US political institutions, including the hack of the Democratic National Committee's emails.

Citing interviews, reviews of documents and other investigative steps, the 253-page document states that "the Committee did not find any evidence of collusion, conspiracy, or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians". The report says committee staff found "intelligence failings" that undermine that assessment by the FBI, CIA and NSA, though specifics are not detailed and some portions of that section are redacted.

The House Intelligence Committee never interviewed Flynn or his son because they both filed written statements announcing that they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid self-incrimination as it applied to Mueller's sweeping Russian Federation investigation. He said numerous blacked out details include information already public such as witness names and previously declassified information. Trump then turned to sanction Russian Federation from these findings. The panel also recommended the executive branch "crack down" on leaks by conducting polygraphs of all for limited certain employees with top secret clearances.