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

Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayHuawei: FCC proposal would hurt poor, rural communities Senate panel upholds finding that Russia backed Trump, contradicting House Trump era ramps up tech worker revolt 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 NunesRussia raises problems for GOP candidates GOP lawmaker regrets appearing on Alex Jones's radio show Freedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations MORE, (R-Calif.) recused himself.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 PapadopoulosWife of Papadopoulos interviews with House Intel Dems Mueller probing Roger Stone following Russian hacker indictment: report Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback 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.