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US House panel says 'no evidence' of Trump campaign collusion with Russia

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-04-28 09:20
US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the East Room of the White House April 27, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

WASHINGTON - US Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee on Friday concluded that they find "no evidence" of collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 US presidential elections, evoking hails from the president and bitter criticism from Democrats.

"While the committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns," the panel said in a redacted 253-page final report based on the committee's year-long investigation.

"For example, 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 judgment," said the Republican-drafted report, which was accompanied by a 98-page document detailing the Democrats' dissenting minority views.

"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 US national security interests." the report went on.

The report also criticized then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for financing "opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials".

Meanwhile, the report accused that Russia did take "multi-faceted" active measures in attempts to "sow fear and division in American society", criticizing the then Barack Obama administration for a "slow and inconsistent" response to Russian threats.

"No evidence' that the Trump campaign 'colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia.' Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia -- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!" Trump tweeted shortly after the report release.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, challenged the Republican findings on Friday, calling the report's conclusion "superficial."

"The content of the report changed daily, including on key assessments, demonstrating the majority's fundamentally flawed approach to the investigation and the superficial and political nature of its conclusions." he said in a statement.

"In fact, we found evidence of collusion in the abundant secret meetings and communications between Trump campaign officials and associates such as Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and others, with emissaries and officials from, or linked to the Russian government," the top Democrat on the committee said.

"To determine whether this evidence of collusion reaches the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal conspiracy, we must await the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, since the Majority refused to interview the witnesses and obtain the documents necessary to find out," he went on.

The House panel final report, which Republicans said was based on interviews with 73 witnesses and a review of over 300,000 documents, came out with little surprise since Republicans on the committee in March issued a one-page summary of their findings making clear that no evidence of collusion had been found during the investigation.

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