House GOP: Investigation found no evidence of Russia-Trump collusion

WASHINGTON — House Republicans investigating foreign interference in the 2016 election say they have found no evidence that Russians colluded with any members of the Trump campaign and dispute a key finding from the intelligence community that Russia had developed a preference for the Republican nominee during the election.

Those are the initial conclusions of a 150-page report from GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee, who are formally bringing the panel's year-long investigation to an end over the fierce objection of Democrats.

Lawmakers had been telegraphing that last week's committee interview with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was likely to be the last of dozens conducted since the committee launched its Russia probe last March.

But the news that majority party staffers had already drafted a final report so quickly was likely to stun committee Democrats who expected to be consulted in the process.

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Rep. Mike Conaway
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Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) asks questions as executives appear before the House Intelligence Committee to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: (L to R) Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) speaks with Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. While both the Senate and House Intelligence committees have received private intelligence briefings in recent months, Monday's hearing is the first public hearing on alleged Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) adjusts his 'Make America Great Again' hat while leaving a meeting at the U.S. Capitol November 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. The hats, a symbol of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, were distrubited during the weekly Republican caucus meeting. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX) (L) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) (R) speak to reporters at the conclusion of a closed-door meeting between the House Intelligence Committee and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) talk, as executives appear before the House Intelligence Committee to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX), who took the reins of the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe after committee chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) stepped aside, arrives to take part in a closed-door committee meeting with White House senior advisor Jared Kushner on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 06: House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) (L) and ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who together are leading the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, hold a news conference at the U.S. Capitol June 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. The congressmen did not take any questions from reporters following their statements. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Representative Mike Conaway, a Republican from Texas, speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing with Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senators on the Intelligence Committee pressed administration officials Wednesday to disclose more about the extent of Russian hacking attempts during last year's election after the government disclosed that 21 states had been targeted. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
MASON, TX - APRIL 18: U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX 11th District) holds a town hall meeting with constituents at the Mason County Library on April 18, 2017 in Mason, Texas. Conaway is replacing Representative Devin Nunes to lead the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
MASON, TX - APRIL 18: U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX 11th District) holds a town hall meeting with constituents at the Mason County Library on April 18, 2017 in Mason, Texas. Conaway is replacing Representative Devin Nunes to lead the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Representative Mike Conaway, a Republican from Texas, waits to chair a House Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee berated lawyers today for social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google for a lethargic response to Russian interference in U.S. politics, as the companies' lawyers faced a second day of grilling in Congress. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MASON, TX - APRIL 18: U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX 11th District) shakes hands with constituents at a town hall meeting at the Mason County Library on April 18, 2017 in Mason, Texas. Conaway is replacing Representative Devin Nunes to lead the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 20: Top row from left, Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, conduct a House Intelligence Committee hearing in Longworth Building on Russian interference with the 2016 election featuring testimony by FBI Director James Comey and Director of the National Security Agency Adm. Mike Rogers, March 20, 2017.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
LLANO, TX - APRIL 11: Texas Congressman Mike Conaway speaks during a town hall meeting at Lutie Watkins United Methodist Church Family Life Center on April 11, 2017 in Llano, Texas. Conaway is currently the representative overseeing the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe investigation. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
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Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who has been leading the committee's investigation since late last spring, said he would officially share the draft with Democrats on Tuesday after speaking to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., about it on Monday. He said Democrats would have an opportunity to offer their input before the report is sent for declassification and ultimately public release, a process that could take at least a month.

After speaking with 73 witnesses and reviewing more than 300,000 pages of documents, Conaway said there was an urgent need to begin making their recommendations known to the public because Americans have already begun voting in midterm elections. And he denied that any of the initial conclusions by the GOP members represented an effort to undermine the work of the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We're not doing anything. We're not saying anything to ask him to stop. We're not asking him to not investigate anything," Conaway said.

The report will include an assessment of the June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and Russians with ties to the Kremlin, concluding that nothing discussed represented collusion.

"Was taking the meeting ill-advised? Yes. But did anything untoward happen? We cannot through all of our investigation find [that]," Conaway said.

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A look at Washington, D.C. the day Rep. Devin Nunes' memo was released
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A look at Washington, D.C. the day Rep. Devin Nunes' memo was released
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person leaving the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee bolts upstairs after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person enters the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A camera is seen mounted to the FBI headquarters, on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person enters the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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A January 2017 assessment from intelligence agencies found with "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government expressed a "clear preference" for Donald Trump in the campaign, and sought to influence the election on his behalf as part of Putin's "longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order."

Conaway and other committee officials said that after an exhaustive review of the thousands of source documents that went into developing that assessment, they largely agreed with its findings but with a major caveat: Information suggesting a "clear preference" by Putin for Trump did not meet the analytical standards required to support the assessment.

The report will go further and suggest that to the extent that any Russians acted on behalf of either candidate, it was for Hillary Clinton. That contentious finding is included in the context of discussing the role of the Christopher Steele dossier that was compiled on behalf of an opposition research firm contracted by a law firm connected to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

"Clearly the dossier would have hurt him and helped her," Conaway said. "We don't have any evidence that the Clinton campaign itself or the DNC knew what was going on. There [were] some cutouts, so to speak."

Among some of the other 40 initial findings:

  • Russians used cyberattacks and social media to sow discord in the U.S.
  • The Obama administration had a "lackluster" response to the Russian efforts.
  • There were "problematic contacts" between senior intelligence officials and the news media.

The draft report includes 25 proposed recommendations for Congress and the executive branch related to election security, supporting European allies, the government response to cyberattacks, campaign finance transparency and counterintelligence practices related to political campaigns.

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