House intel committee wraps up collusion investigation
The House Intelligence Committee has wrapped up its investigation and has found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the election to the president.
Predictably, Democrats showed their displeasure. They weren't finished milking every last bit of political capital out of the investigation. But they needn't worry. There are still the investigations by the Senate intel committee and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, for Democrats to extract the maximum damage on Trump and the Republicans.
After speaking with 73 witnesses and reviewing more than 300,000 pages of documents, a senior Republican on the panel said there was an urgent need to begin making their recommendations known to the public because Americans have already begun voting in midterm elections.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said the exhaustive probe ultimately found no definitive proof that the Trump campaign actively cooperated with any Russians to influence the vote.
"We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment at taking meetings. But only Tom Clancy ... or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a fiction page-turner spy thriller," he told reporters Monday.
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.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the committee, said the committee's work "is fundamentally incomplete," and blasted Republicans in a statement for seeming to turn a blind eye to serious questions including whether the Russians had leverage over the president.
Whether the Russians had "leverage" over the president is not a serious question. It's a fantasy question. Trump's actions and rhetoric toward Russia are completely explainable within the context of his strategic vision. It's utter nonsense to believe that some phantom Russian "leverage" is at work in U.S. policymaking.
The problem isn't Russian leverage, but Democrats who disagree with the president's policy. A lot of Republicans disagree with his policy, too. If you are going to accuse Trump of treason, you have to do better than hinting at sinister "leverage" that the Russians might have over him.
The question that the House intel committee faced was how much longer to beat a dead horse. Even if there was collusion, they weren't going to find it. It may be considered a partisan move to wrap up the investigation, but Democrats have even less interest in the truth than Republicans. No reason for Dems to get high and mighty and denounce Republicans for refusing to keep playing the game when the clock has run out.