Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET
House intelligence committee Republicans on Monday cleared President Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russians who attacked the 2016 U.S. election, concluding a probe that minority Democrats had long argued was focused on appeasing the White House.
The intelligence committee’s findings do not end the Russia imbroglio — the Senate intelligence committee and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller are continuing their work — but they provide a political shot in the arm for Trump. The president touted the findings on Twitter later Monday night.
Trump and his advisers have denied from the first they had any role in what intelligence officers call the “active measures” that Russia has been waging against the United States for years. The Republicans’ initial report on Monday affirmed that those active measures have been taking place but said there was no evidence Trump played any role in them and, in a departure with the U.S. intelligence community, Republicans disputed that they were intended to help Trump win.
Republicans also highlighted what they call the real problems within the Russia matter, including what they say was the abuse of surveillance powers by national security officials and what they called “problematic contacts between senior intelligence community officials and the media.”
House committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was set to send the majority’s draft of the report to Democrats on Tuesday for their review. Democrats are expected to dispute its conclusions as premature or partisan and raise what they call the roadblocks to a true investigation that Republicans put in place. Ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wanted to issue certain subpoenas or pursue other leads, for example, which he said the majority would not accommodate.
Ultimately, Monday’s announcement by intelligence committee Republicans set the stage for the partisan outcome that has long appeared in store for the committee’s Russia probe: a majority Republican report and a minority Democratic one that reach different conclusions.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, another top Republican on the intelligence committee, told reporters that meetings and other contacts between people on the Trump campaign and Russians might have been ill-advised at the time but did not add up to an international conspiracy to throw the election.
“We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings,” he told The Associated Press and other news organizations. “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.”