- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2018

Partisan to the last, the House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday along party lines to end its more than yearlong investigation into Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Pending declassification by the intelligence community, Republican committee members will soon release their report which found “no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

The GOP-written report, which also disagreed with the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin preferred then-candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, contains additional findings and a series of recommendations.

Despite objections from Democrats, it should be made public after Congress’ two-week Easter recess, said Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican who led the probe.

“Based on 70-plus witness interviews and more than 300,000 documents collected, [the report] provides specific findings and recommendations to improve our election security before the midterm elections,” committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, said in a statement following Thursday’s vote.

House Democrats, who have been sharply criticism of the Republicans running the committee, said the panel Republicans had proved more eager to shield President Trump than to press for the truth.

“Today, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to protect President Trump instead of protecting the American people,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley. “There is no question that Russia interfered in our elections.”

Instead of targeting Mr. Trump, the declassified GOP summary of findings takes direct aim at the Obama White House’s response to early signals that the Kremlin was trying to sway the 2016 vote, while denouncing the Obama team’s post-election response as “insufficient.”

The findings also highlight material from the committee’s hotly disputed GOP memo earlier this year that accused the FBI and Justice Department of abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain surveillance warrants on Trump campaign associates.

The report clears the Trump campaign itself of any involvement in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign-related emails, “although Trump associates had numerous ill-advised contacts with WikiLeaks,” the report said.

Mr. Trump last week pointed to the GOP-authored report as evidence that his campaign had been exonerated, but the House investigation has also long been seen as one of the more contentious and partisan probes in recent history

Republicans consistently argued that Democrats were extending the probe for political purposes and to smear Mr. Trump. Democrats meanwhile, countered that Mr. Nunes blindly defended the White House and attempted to smear the FBI, Justice Department and Mr. Mueller’s probe to distract from the central charges.

After Thursday’s vote, Democrats again vowed to continue investigating and reiterated that their Republican colleagues prematurely shuttered the investigation.

“This is not how you run an investigation,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel. “This is how you hobble an investigation.”

Mr. Schiff made multiple attempts Thursday morning to push the committee to subpoena more witnesses and to hold former White House strategist Steve Bannon in contempt for not fully complying with the committee’s probe, but all motions were rejected, Mr. Schiff said.

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