- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, has broken from his GOP colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee regarding their conclusion that Russia didn’t prefer President Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 White House race.

It was “clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed,” Mr. Gowdy said in a statement Tuesday, contradicting a conclusion reached the day prior by fellow Republican committee members investigating the 2016 race.

The House panel’s Republican leadership abruptly announced the end of their probe Monday roughly a year after its members first began holding hearings in hopes of uncovering more about the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the election to cause chaos and disrupt Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and effectively boost Mr. Trump’s.

Republicans said the panel probe’s didn’t uncover any evidence indicating Russia aided the Republican nominee, however, and that they disagreed with the assessment’s conclusions regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged preference for Mr. Trump.

“We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump,” said Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the probe’s top Republican.

The assessment of the intelligence community “did not meet minimum tradecraft standards for drawing a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the Russians were trying to help President Trump,” a spokeswoman for Mr. Conaway told CNBC.

“What was clear throughout our investigation is that the Russians were trying to divide country any way they could,” the spokeswoman said.

Intelligence officials during the Obama administration concluded with high confidence that Mr. Putin authorized an attack against the 2016 election and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in particular, triggering multiple congressional probes and an ongoing Justice Department investigation that has resulted in criminal charges being brought against members of Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian nationals.

The “evidence is clear and overwhelming that the intelligence community assessment was correct,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat.

The House Intelligence Committee plans to vote March 22 on a final version of its report, Mr. Conaway told CNN Wednesday.

Mr. Gowdy, 53, is currently one of 13 Republicans on the GOP-dominated House Intelligence Committee, albeit not for long. He previously said he won’t seek re-election in November, joining several other outgoing Republican committee members including Reps. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Tom Rooney and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of Florida.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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