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

Key Points
  • The House Intelligence Committee has finished interviewing witnesses as part of its probe into Russian election meddling.
  • Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., says the committee will now work to complete and issue the final report.
  • The Democratic minority will get to see the majority's report on Tuesday.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (r) and Rep. Peter King leave the committee's meeting room in the U.S. Capitol, February 6, 2018.
Getty Images

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee ended its probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, releasing an initial finding that there was "no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy" between the Trump campaign and Russia.

"After more than a year, the Committee has finished its Russia investigation and will now work on completing our report," said committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., in a press release.

In a one-page report summary of a draft report of more than 150 pages, the committee breaks with the overall intelligence community's consensus that Russia's actions included disparaging then-candidate Hillary Clinton and supporting Donald Trump.

The summary said that the committee agreed with the intelligence community's prior judgments, "except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump."

President Trump, who has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia, held up the Republican-led committee's findings as vindication.


Democrats vow to continue investigation

Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., sent a fiery response to his Republican colleagues on Twitter Monday evening.

The decision to end the probe, Schiff said, "represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch."

"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," he said.

Schiff said that Democrats on the committee will continue their investigation, "with or without the active participation of the Majority."

When new information surfaces, Schiff said, "Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance."

Schiff tweet: BREAKING: GOP just shut down House Intel investigation, leaving questions unanswered, leads unexplored, countless witnesses uncalled, subpoenas unissued.If Russians have leverage over the President, GOP has decided that it would rather not know. The minority's work continues:

In another initial finding, the majority said it discovered "how anti-Trump research made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign."

And the GOP-led investigation also discovered "problematic contacts between senior Intelligence Community officials and the media."

The investigation included interviews with 73 witnesses, according to the report. Combined, the committee heard 230 hours of testimony and reviewed 307,905 documents, the report said.

Dueling memos

The House Committee's investigation, which began in January 2017, has been conducted alongside at least two separate investigations within the government.

In May 2017, FBI Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI, to lead an inquiry into potential Russian collusion and related matters. An additional probe is being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Republican Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina and ranking Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia.

The House investigation has become a source of intense political strife between Republicans and Democrats. Panel Chairman Nunes, who assisted Trump during the presidential transition after the 2016 election, has been accused of partisan bias in favor of the White House by Democrats in Congress.

One of Nunes' staunchest critics is the committee's own ranking member, Rep. Schifff, who lambasted Nunes and other congressional Republicans "who have cast aside their duty to uphold the law and perform oversight in favor of protecting the Trump presidency — no matter the cost."

A protracted duel over declassified memos — a Republican memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses and a Democratic rebuttal defending the bureau's methods — crystallized the polarization between the two parties in the committee.

The Republican memo passed on a party-line committee vote and was sent to Trump for approval, forgoing intelligence agencies' traditional role in the process. It said that the FBI improperly relied upon an unverified and partially Democrat-funded dossier, which alleged salacious connections between Trump and the Kremlin.

The Democrats' response was initially rejected by the White House, which cited national security concerns. The minority's memo accused committee Republicans of a "transparent effort to undermine" the FBI and Justice Department in order to delegitimize other investigations involving the president.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats on the panel responded to CNBC's request for comment.