Tuesday 22 January 2019

Republican-led House intelligence committee clears Trump campaign of Russia collusion

US President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
US President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Republican-led House intelligence committee has officially cleared the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The committee released its final report over Democratic objections and ended its probe.

The investigation began with bipartisan promise but ultimately succumbed to factional squabbling.

Republicans had already announced the main findings last month. An investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is continuing, as are probes led by the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees.

The House panel did find that Moscow sought to sow discord in the US through cyberattacks and social media.

Some portions of the public report are redacted for national security reasons. Republicans say they will pressure intelligence agencies to release more information.

The report's conclusion is fiercely opposed by committee Democrats. They say the panel did not interview enough witnesses or gather enough evidence to support its finding.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion.

In a statement, Republican representative Mike Conaway, who has been leading the investigation, said he was "extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions" made by intelligence agencies.

He said many of the blacked-out details include information already public such as witness names and previously declassified information.

Mr Conaway said the committee had pledged to be "as transparent as possible" with the report.

"I don't believe the information we're releasing today meets that standard, which is why my team and I will continue to challenge the many unnecessary redactions with the hopes of releasing more of the report in the coming months," he said.

California Democrat Adam Schiff said the panel did uncover evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite Republicans saying otherwise.

He cited several secret meetings and communication between people linked to Russia and Trump campaign officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the president's son Donald Trump Jr.

Mr Schiff said Republicans on the committee did not conduct a serious investigation.

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