House Intel Republican contradicts panel, says Russia tried to help Trump in 2016
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that “there is evidence” showing the Russians attempted to help President Trump during the 2016 presidential election, contradicting a draft report from the panel.
“I certainly think there is evidence of that. I don’t know that necessarily there was a full-fledged campaign to do everything that they could to help elect Donald Trump,” Rooney told host Erin Burnett on CNN’s “OutFront.” “I think that their goal was chaos.”
“To say that we have seen or read evidence that says ‘we have to get Donald Trump in there,’ I don’t know that that’s true,” Rooney added.
Burnett pointed out that “the intelligence community had said” Moscow’s intention “was to hurt Hillary Clinton,” and that the Kremlin “wanted to explicitly help Donald Trump.”
Rooney responded: “Yes, I believe there’s evidence of everything that you just said.”
The House Intelligence Committee announced on Monday that it had finished interviewing all its witnesses in its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 race.
A draft report on its findings, which drew swift condemnation from Democrats, said Moscow sought chaos, not to boost one candidate over another. The report contradicts the conclusions drawn from multiple U.S. intelligence agencies, which hold that Russia sought to help elect Trump.
“Instead of conducting an honest investigation, House Republicans chose to put partisanship over our national security and run a shameful interference campaign to give cover to Donald Trump,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.
Rooney argued that the investigation needed to end because the committee was losing its credibility.
“We’ve gone completely off the rails and now we are just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” Rooney said. “We’ve lost all credibility and we are going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately.”
Relations between Democrats and Republicans on the committee have worsened, with much of the spotlight focused on the conflict between Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Tensions reached a boiling point earlier this year when Democrats and Republicans released competing memos concerning alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department.
According to CNN, the Democrats on the committee are expected to issue a report arguing that members did not conduct a thorough investigation. Republicans will likely argue that they did not find any evidence of collusion.
Rooney also warned that the government needs to act to prevent foreign interference in the upcoming midterm elections.
“If we don’t get any of these recommendations out before this cycle gets fully underway, then we have really just completely wasted a year of everybody’s time,” he said.
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