U.S. House Republicans aren’t exactly known for standing up to President Donald Trump.
But even they think his campaign’s connection with WikiLeaks in the run-up to the 2016 election looks pretty bad — to the point of conflicting with American national security interests.
On Friday morning, Republicans leading the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released their long-awaited report on Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election, and on whether Trump's team helped Moscow do it.
The GOP-authored report found that, yes, Russia interfered. But it also said that, no, the Trump team didn’t assist. Democrats on the committee immediately dismissed the Republican investigation as “superficial” and “political,” and said it overlooked key evidence of collusion that’s hiding in plain sight.
But the Republicans did slap Trump for his campaign’s links to WikiLeaks, the operation that leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails at the height of the campaign. The report said WikiLeaks got those emails from Russia in the first place, and called WikiLeaks “one of the vehicles for the public dissemination of emails stolen by Russians.”
The Trump campaign’s multiple points of connection with WikiLeaks were “ill-advised” and at odds with U.S. security interests, the report said.
“The Committee also found the Trump campaign's periodic praise for and communications with WikiLeaks — a hostile foreign organization — to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests,” the report said.
Trump, naturally, hailed the Republican report on Twitter, and called for an end to investigations into Russian meddling.
The Republicans said that nobody the committee interviewed had offered up proof of collusion. “When asked directly, none of the interviewed witnesses provided evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” the report said.
And the famous meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 between Trump campaign officials and a lawyer who’d been advertised as having dirt on Clinton was basically just a bad judgement call and nothing more, the GOP report found.
“The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign demonstrated poor judgement,” the report said.
The Republican-authored report also took pains to point out that special counsel Robert Mueller’s charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort don’t involve any allegations of coordination with Russia during the election — even though Mueller’s probe isn’t done yet.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said final conclusions will be impossible until Mueller’s had his say.
The Democrats released their own “minority views” report that blasted the GOP effort:
A majority of the report’s findings are misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record. They have been crafted to advance a political narrative that exonerates the President, downplays Russia’s preference and support for then-candidate Trump, explains away repeated contacts by Trump associates with Russia-aligned actors, and seeks to shift suspicion towards President Trump’s political opponents and the prior administration.
The Republicans also refused to seek testimony from “dozens” of witnesses, Democrats said, including Manafort, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates, and former Trump national security adviser George Papadopoulos. Flynn, Gates and Papadopoulos have pled guilty. Manafort is under indictment.
Here's the House Republicans' report:
And the Democrats report:
Cover image: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event with the Wounded Warrior Project veterans to kick off the annual Soldier Ride in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images)