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US House Republicans find 'no evidence' of Trump-Russia collusion

US House Republicans find no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion
US House Republicans find 'no evidence' of Trump-Russia collusion. Reuters/J. Roberts
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Republicans in the US House of Representatives announced Monday that a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election had concluded there was no collusion between US President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia.

The leading Republican for the House Intelligence Committee, Texas Representative Mike Conaway, said the panel had finished interviewing witnesses in its yearlong probe.

"We found no evidence of collusion," Conaway told reporters.

He said the panel "found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings," but suggested it was a stretch to conclude those "inadvertent contacts" amounted to collusion.

Although the Republicans' draft report agrees with the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, it takes aim at a central point in the assessment, disagreeing that Moscow meddled in order to help boost Trump's campaign.

Republicans will share their draft report with their Democrat colleagues on the panel on Tuesday, Conaway said. The report will only be released to the public after the Democrats and intelligence community have reviewed its contents.

Read more: Why the Russia probes don't cripple Trump's foreign policy

Trump tweets, Democrats cry foul

In an all-caps tweet late Monday, Trump appeared to celebrate the House Republicans' findings, repeating that the committee had found "no evidence of collusion."

Democrats and intelligence officials were less pleased with the assessment, with ranking Democrat Adam Schiff tweeting that "GOP members ... lack the courage to stand up to a president of their own party when the national interest necessitates it."

The Republicans' draft report contradicts the preliminary findings released by the panel's Democrats last month, which concluded there was "ample evidence of collusion."

Shortly after the Republican announcement on Monday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement saying it stood by the intelligence community's findings.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are expected to soon release their own report.

Read more: Putin lauds Trump — 'No disappointment at all'

Parallel probes still ongoing

Several other Russia investigations are still underway. The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to release a bipartisan report in the coming weeks on election security, but a report on alleged coordination between Trump's team and Russia will come at a later date. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also investigating the meddling.

Congress' investigations, which are not criminal probes, are also running separately from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Four former Trump campaign staffers and 13 Russians have been indicted in the Mueller probe to date.

rs/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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