House Intel Panel Will Announce End Of Russia Probe Interviews Monday

Conaway of Texas right last month in Washington. Credit Jacquelyn Martin  Associated Press

House Intelligence Committee Republicans have completed a draft report in their yearlong Russia probe that states they found no evidence President Donald Trump or anyone affiliated with him colluded with Russian officials to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, a conclusion expected to incite backlash from Democrats.

The House Intelligence Committee's chairman, Republican Representative Devin Nunes, recused himself from the investigation past year amid reports he had a secret meeting at the White House. The agencies have repeatedly asserted support for those findings, even as Trump's appointees took the helm.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who is overseeing the Moscow hacking probe, announced on Monday the committee would stop interviewing witnesses and was in the process of readying its final report.

The committee has drafted a 150-page report of initial findings that will be released March 13.

A January 2017 assessment from intelligence agencies found with "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government expressed a "clear preference" for Donald Trump in the campaign, and sought to influence the election on his behalf as part of Putin's "longstanding desire to undermine the US -led liberal democratic order".

"After more than a year, the committee has finished its Russian Federation investigation and will now work on completing our report", said panel chair Devin Nunes. "That's what this next phase is about and we hope Democrats will join us in seeing this through". Important witnesses have not been interviewed, and records have not been subpoenaed, including bank documents and certain communications that Democrats say are paramount to understanding the case. CNN reported that the Democratic report might also point out the investigation's shortcomings.

Last week the committee met behind closed doors for the second time with President Donald Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

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Several Republicans on the panel have been signaling for several weeks now that they're ready for the Russian Federation investigation to wrap up, arguing that Democrats are trying to extend the probe into the campaign season.

Democrats countered the charges were an attempt to smear special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Democrats were not part of the drafting of the GOP's report, and were not presented with a copy of the findings before Conaway addressed the press. The committee has been unable to access a slew of central figures who have either been indicted or pleaded guilty in the course of Mueller's probe. The statement also added that the Clinton campaign had obtained "anti-Trump research" from Russian sources, an apparent nod to the disputed Steele memo.

The House Intelligence Committee has finished all of its interviews in its congressional Russian Federation investigation. Republicans and Democrats have both described that probe as far less partisan than the House's.

Rep. Conway's announcement will doubtlessly please President Trump.

.

But Democrats say the committee has raced through its final interviews, while allowing witnesses to pick and choose which questions they answer.

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