GOP ends the announcement despite the special counsel’s push for further inquiry
Following a year of political discord on the issue, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee announced on Monday, March 12 that they had concluded the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians who used social media to influence the election.
Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), who is leading the investigation, said that the committee Republicans acknowledged that Russia did interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not agree with the claim that Russians favored Trump’s candidacy.
“We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment at taking meetings,” Conaway told reporters on Monday. “But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller.”
The Republican-led committee made its shocking announcement despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller — who has been overseeing the investigation since May 2017 — has expanded his questioning and inquiry into criminal charges against at least four Trump affiliates.
The HIC spoke with a total of 73 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents, but it failed to interview the man at the center of the investigation, President Donald Trump, himself.
In a one-page statement, they said they found no evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump’s team, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller garnering multiple guilty pleas from 19 individuals and three organizations, including four members of the Trump campaign.
The announcement provoked outrage among the Democrats on the committee, who warned their Republican counterparts not to close the investigation before Mueller was finished with his part of the investigation.
Democrats in the committee lambasted the GOP for their statement, arguing that shutting down the investigation left many “questions unanswered, leads unexplored, countless witnesses uncalled [and] subpoenas unissued,” according to ranking committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Schiff noted that although the investigation could be left to Mueller, who possesses the “resources and independence” to complete the task, the investigation itself would be left with some holes.
“This fundamentally misapprehends the mission of the Special Counsel, which is to determine whether U.S. laws were broken and who should be prosecuted,” Schiff said in a statement released on Monday. “It is not Mueller’s job to tell the American people what happened. That is our job, and the majority has walked away from it.”
Schiff continued: “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.”
Meanwhile, Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice is said to be close to completion, likely after several interviews with key individuals including the president and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., who previously released bombshell campaign emails that suggested that Russia favored a Trump candidacy.