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Republicans on House Intelligence Committee shut down probe into 2016 election

Republicans on House Intelligence Committee shut down probe into 2016 election

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have voted to shut down the group’s bipartisan investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, saying they found no evidence that Donald Trump or his team conspired with the foreign country.

Republicans on the committee said they had already drafted a 150-page report on their findings, which they would deliver to Democrats on Tuesday.

“We found no evidence of any collusion of anything people were actually doing other than taking a meeting they shouldn’t have taken or just inadvertently being in the same building,” Representative Mike Conaway told CNN, announcing the end of the investigation.

The committee agreed with the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia had attempted to sow discord during the 2016 election, Mr Conaway said, but disagreed with the claim that they did so in order to boost Mr Trump’s campaign.

The president celebrated the news with a triumphant tweet in all caps, saying the committee had found “no evidence of collusion of coordination between the Trump campaign or Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election”.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russia.

Democrats were less excited about the news. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee and a frequent thorn in the side of Republican leadership, lashed out at the Republican majority in a blistering statement.

“By ending its oversight role in the only authorised 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,” Mr Schiff said.

He added: “If the Russians do have leverage over the President of the United States, the Majority has simply decided it would rather not know.”

The committee has conducted more than a year’s worth of investigation on the subject. They have interviewed more than 50 people, including former presidential adviser Steve Bannon, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and even Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

The committee has also been bitterly divided on partisan lines, following the release of a controversial memo by ranking Republican Devin Nunes. Democrats fought against the release of the memo – which alleges that the FBI improperly surveilled the Trump campaign – and later released their own memo to counter it.

Signifying the extent of the disagreement, Democrats were expected to write up their own report of the committee’s findings – one that would likely argue a case for collusion. Republicans did not say when their report would be made public, as it would first have to be declassified by the intelligence community.

The Senate’s parallel investigation into Russian meddling will continue, as will that of special counsel Robert Mueller.