House Intelligence Committee votes to release GOP report finding no evidence of collusion

Democrats argue that Republicans prematurely shut down the investigation.

The House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday along party lines to release the Republican majority’s report on its Russia investigation, which found no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Republican-authored report, the first to be released from any congressional committee conducting a Russia investigation, now heads to the intelligence community for declassification, a process that could take weeks.

Saying Thursday’s vote ended a “rather sad chapter” in the traditionally bipartisan committee’s history, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, called the GOP report a “fundamentally unserious effort.”

“It was clear that their report was going to be completely political from beginning to end and there wasn't much to work on in a joint fashion,” he said.

While Democrats did not sign on to the report, some of its findings appear to be in line with sentiments the minority has previously expressed - including the conclusion that the Executive Branch's post-election response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election was "insufficient."

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“A lot of the report says stuff that we all know and we all agree with,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said. “It has a number of conclusions and findings with which we disagree.”

In their report, Republicans said they found no evidence of collusion related to Trump’s “pre-campaign business dealings” - a subject Democrats have wanted to scrutinize more closely.

They have recommended that Congress pass legislation to increase the penalties for unauthorized disclosures of classified information and that the Executive Branch institute polygraphs for all non-confirmed political appointees with top secret clearance.

The report also calls on Congress to consider repealing the Logan Act, the 18th-century law that forbids private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

Republicans opposed the moves, Schiff said, adding that Democrats plan to push the committee to release witness interview transcripts.

The votes in committee broke down along party lines, with Democrats opposing the release of the report and Republicans opposing Democrats’ motions, save for Rep. Trey Gowdy's "present" vote on Democrats' motion to hold former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer the committee’s questions while under subpoena, according to a source in the business meeting.

Democrats plan to continue investigating unilaterally, amid reports that a data firm tied to the Trump campaign improperly collected data from millions of Facebook profiles without permission.

They are planning to interview Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee who has alleged wrongdoing at the company and could release their own minority report sometime before the midterm elections.

Republicans, who have signaled that they will not join additional interviews, have accused Democrats of seeking to extend the probe for political purposes.

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