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

US House Intelligence Committee Republicans say the panel has finished investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election. The Trump campaign's "inappropriate meetings" did not constitute collusion, they said.

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 moreWhy the Russia probes don't cripple Trump's foreign policy

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

2013: Mr Trump goes to Russia

June 18, 2013. Donald Trump tweeted: "The Miss Universe Pageant will be broadcast live from MOSCOW, RUSSIA on November 9. A big deal that will bring our countries together!" He later added: "Do you think Putin will be going - if so, will he become my new best friend?" October 17, 2013 Trump tells chat show host David Letterman he has conducted "a lot of business with the Russians."

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

September 2015: Hacking allegations raised

An FBI agent told a tech-support contractor at the Democratic National Committee it may have been hacked. On May 18, 2016, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, said there were "some indications" of cyberattacks aimed at the presidential campaigns. On June 14, 2016 the DNC announced it had been the victim of an attack by Russian hackers.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

July 20, 2016: Mr Kislyak enters the picture

Senator Jeff Sessions - an early Trump endorser who led his national security advisory committee - met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a group of other ambassadors at a Republican National Convention event.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

July 22, 2016: Assange thickens the plot

Julian Assange's WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails stolen from the DNC, appearing to show a preference for Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

July 25, 2016: Cometh the hour, Comey the man

The FBI announced it was investigating the DNC hack saying "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously."

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

November 8, 2016: Trump elected

Donald Trump is elected president of the United States. On November 9, the Russian parliament burst into applause at the news.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

November 10, 2016: Team Trump denies Russia link

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov said there "were contacts" between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the election campaign. The Trump campaign issued a firm denial.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

November 18, 2016: Flynn appointed

Trump named General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. The former Defence Intelligence Agency chief was a top foreign policy adviser in Trump's campaign. Flynn resigned in February after failing to disclose full details of his communication with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

January 26, 2017: Yates - 'The center cannot hold'

Acting attorney general Sally Yates told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn made false statements regarding his calls with Kislyak. On January 30 Trump fired Yates for refusing to enforce his travel ban, which was later blocked by federal courts.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

March 2, 2017: Sessions recuses himself

Trump said he had "total confidence" in Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions announced he would recuse himself from any investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

March 20, 2017: FBI examines Trump-Kremlin links

FBI Director James Comey confirmed before the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the FBI was investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

May 9, 2017: Trump sacks Comey

In a letter announcing the termination, Trump wrote: "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

May 17, 2017: Mueller appointed special counsel

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to look into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

August 2017: FBI seizes documents from Manafort

Shortly after Mueller convenes a grand jury for the investigation, the FBI seizes documents from one of Paul Manafort’s properties as part of a raid for Mueller’s probe. The former Trump campaigner manager stepped down in August 2016 after allegations surfaced that he had received large payments linked to Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

September 2017: Trump Jr.'s talks to Senate committee

Donald Trump Jr. tells the Senate Judiciary Committee he has not colluded with a foreign government. The closed-door interview relates to his June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which was also attended by his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump Jr.’s emails, however, suggest the meeting was supposed to produce dirt on Clinton.

How Donald Trump's Russian connection unfolded

October 2017: Internet giants allege Russian interference

Facebook, Twitter and Google reportedly tell US media they have evidence that Russian operatives exploited platforms to spread disinformation during the 2016 US presidential election. The three companies are expected to appear before a Senate Intelligence Committee in November.

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."

Related Subjects

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 morePutin 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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