Top Russia probe Republican: It's 'clear' Putin tried to hurt Hillary

Top Russia probe Republican: It's 'clear' Putin tried to hurt Hillary
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The top Republican leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference said Tuesday that the committee took issue with how the intelligence community reached the conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to help President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Ivanka Trump to campaign for Devin Nunes in California MORE win the election — not the conclusion itself.

The group of intelligence officials who crafted the government’s official assessment of Russian interference in the U.S. election, Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayImmigration fight threatens GOP farm bill White House urges support for House farm bill Overnight Finance: Supreme Court strikes down law banning sports betting | Lawmakers stunned by Trump push to help Chinese company | Ryan, GOP scramble to win support for controversial farm bill MORE (R-Texas) said, did not meet the appropriate standards to make the determination of Putin’s preference.

But, he told reporters, “it was clear [Putin] was trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton].”

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“The issue we have is with the analytic tradecraft,” he said. “Everyone gets to make their own mind whether or not they are trying to hurt Hillary or help Trump — whatever it is, it is kind of the glass half full, glass half empty depending how you look at it.”

Conaway announced the end of the committee’s probe on Monday afternoon and laid out a number of the top-line conclusions reached by GOP members in their initial report.

Among those conclusions, Conaway said, will be an assertion that investigators “couldn’t establish the same conclusion that the CIA did that [the Russians] specifically wanted to help Trump.”

The report will also assert that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Conaway said. 

The announcement was met with a triumphant response from President Trump.

“The House Intelligence Committee has, after a 14 month long in-depth investigation, found no evidence of collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election,” he tweeted, in all caps.

But a number of committee Republicans appeared to parse Conaway’s statement about Putin’s preferences by Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyWhite House lawyer’s presence at FBI meetings sets off alarm bells for Dems Dems after briefing: 'No evidence' spy placed in Trump campaign House GOP sets three FBI interviews in Clinton probe MORE (R-S.C.), who helped Conaway lead the probe, issued a statement claiming that “it is clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.” 

Asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett if he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment that Putin explicitly wanted to help Trump, Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans Koch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Ryan backs Nunes in his latest pursuit of classified DOJ documents MORE (R-Fla.) said, “I believe there's evidence of everything that you just said.” 

Conaway on Monday declined to set a timeline for the public release of the House report, which must first be sent back to the intelligence community to be scrubbed for classified information.

Democrats received access to the document on Tuesday for review.

They argue that Republicans are closing down the probe prematurely and ignoring important lines of inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.