Conaway walks back comment after saying House Intel didn't probe collusion

Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayThe House Republican farm bill has nothing to do with helping anyone work GOP presses for stiff work requirements for food stamps Congress votes to expand deficit — and many in GOP are unhappy MORE (R-Texas) said Sunday the House Intelligence Committee was not tasked with investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, despite the committee issuing a report last week stating it found no evidence of collusion in the 2016 election.

“Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea,” Conaway said on NBC's “Meet The Press.” 

"So we really weren’t focused on that direction."

A spokeswoman for Conaway said he "meant obstruction" rather than collusion.

“The scope of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia Investigation covered four parameters, including if Russian active measures included links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, or any other U.S. person," said Emily Hytha, a spokeswoman for Conaway. "As Mr. Conaway announced on Monday and has stated repeatedly, including on 'Meet the Press,' the Committee did not find evidence of collusion. We thoroughly investigated all four bipartisan parameters within our scope, and believe we have the information we need to present the American people with the facts we’ve uncovered."

Conaway led the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the committee's chairman, Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes: DNC lawsuit is a ‘scam’ Perez: Confident DNC will get a jury trial in election lawsuit Comey memo fallout is mostly fizzle MORE, (R-Calif.) recused himself.

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Last week, Conaway announced the end of the committee’s probe and laid out a number of conclusions reached by GOP members in their initial report. Among those conclusions was the assertion that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The report drew strong criticism from committee Democrats, who said the committee came to no such conclusion.

Conaway on Sunday acknowledged the committee did not interview former Trump campaign aide George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosFBI a house of lies in Comey era DOJ gives House Intel original document that prompted Russia investigation Nunes threatens to 'impeach' Wray and Rosenstein MORE and other key figures, because he didn’t want to overlap with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's criminal investigation.

“We’re trying to stay away from the Mueller investigation and not confuse that or hurt it one way or the other,” he said. 

When asked if he regrets that the committee attempted to draw a conclusion on whether the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign, Conaway denied that the committee drew a conclusion at all. 

“What we said is we found no evidence of it,” he said. “That’s a different statement. We found no evidence of collusion.”

— Updated at 4:20 p.m.