WHAT’S THE RUSH? Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee this week ended the year-long Russia probe without informing the Democrats in the committee, announcing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not trying to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. They also concluded, “there was no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, as Putin’s government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
This goes against the findings of the U.S. intelligence community (CIA, FBI, Senate Intelligence Committee et c), and even the Mueller criminal investigation that indeed Russia meddled in the elections through cyber warfare and hacking, by bombarding fake news to weaken the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and help Trump win.
While these Republicans on the committee conceded that Russians meddled in the elections to sow chaos, they disputed the intelligence community’s assessment that they tried to help Trump win the election.
“We found no evidence of collusion, and so we found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings,” Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway said. “We found no evidence of any collusion of anything people were actually doing other than taking a meeting they shouldn’t have taken or just inadvertently being in the same building.”
The top Democrat in the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, lashed out at the Republicans’ decision to end the probe, saying, “While the majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been under great pressure to end the investigation, it is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch.”
Schiff continued on to point out that “By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the president over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.”
Former CIA official Phil Mudd questioned the House Republican report asking, “How the heck can they say they got to the bottom of this” when some interviewees chose not to answer questions?”
When the assessment was released, James Clapper, who was director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration, likewise questioned the conclusion of the Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee.
“I obviously disagree. The four intelligence chiefs all agreed with the assessment, which was based on highly classified intelligence,” Clapper said in a report on CNN. “This is a case of people living in their own reality bubbles when we can’t agree on basic facts.
Clapper further noted that U.S. intelligence found Putin had deep animus toward Clinton and saw Trump as more friendly toward Russia.
Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee said the Republicans rushed through the final interviews, even allowing witnesses to pick and choose which questions they answer.
As CNN reported, the committee issued a subpoena to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in January, but in his return testimony, he still did not answer questions about his time in the White House.
Democrats also wanted to subpoena the committee’s last two witnesses, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to get their testimonies under oath and to compel them to produce documents needed in the investigation, but Republicans did not issue them.
Schiff contended after Lewandowski’s interview last week, ”There are a number of steps that I think any credible investigator would say, ‘These need to be done,’ and we still hope that they will be.”
Trump was quick to exonerate the Trump campaign through his favorite platform Twitter, stating in all caps:
“THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”
BUT this development only ends the probe in the House Intelligence Committee. The Senate will continue with its own investigation, and so will the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The American people deserve to know the TRUTH, and the Republicans in Congress and President Trump should not get in the way.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos