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

Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayEx-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line 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 NunesRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC What good are the intelligence committees? CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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 PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE and other key figures, because he didn’t want to overlap with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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.