WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee released a final report on its Russia investigation Friday that criticized the Trump campaign for "poor judgment and ill-conceived actions" in dealing with the Russians but concluded that there is no evidence the campaign colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
The Republican majority had already announced its "no collusion" finding last month, but it has now released the actual 243-page report detailing its conclusions.
The report cites as "poor judgement" the June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower in New York between members of the Trump campaign — including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law; and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — and a Russian attorney who "who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign."
"The Committee also found the Trump campaign's periodic praise for and communications with Wikileaks — a hostile foreign organization — to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests," the report said.
Still, the GOP committee members found that "when asked directly, none of the interviewed witnesses provided evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government." The report also found "no evidence that President Trump's pre-campaign business dealings formed the basis for collusion during the campaign."
The Republican majority also criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee for trying to obscure their role in paying for opposition research on Trump. That research resulted in the now infamous "Steele dossier," which contained salacious and unsubstantiated allegations that Trump met with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.
President Trump immediately hailed the report as proof that his campaign did not collude with the Russians, tweeting that the "witch hunt" of the Russia investigation "must end now!"
While the report released Friday officially ends the House Intelligence Committee's bitterly partisan investigation, probes are continuing in the Senate Intelligence Committee and, to a lesser extent, in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Most importantly, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is continuing his Russia investigation on behalf of the Department of Justice.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee charged that their Republican colleagues ignored evidence of collusion because they wanted to protect Trump.
"Throughout the investigation, Committee Republicans chose not to seriously investigate — or even see, when in plain sight — evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, instead adopting the role of defense counsel for key investigation witnesses," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the committee's senior Democrat.
"In fact," Schiff said, "we found evidence of collusion in the abundant secret meetings and communications between Trump campaign officials and associates such as Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and others, with emissaries and officials from, or linked to the Russian government. The Trump campaign and Administration’s efforts to deny, conceal and, when discovered, misrepresent what took place in these interactions with the Russians is powerful evidence of a consciousness of wrongdoing."
Schiff said Americans must now rely on Mueller to do the job the polarized committee could not do.
"To determine whether this evidence of collusion reaches the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal conspiracy, we must await the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, since the Majority refused to interview the witnesses and obtain the documents necessary to find out," he said. "Regardless, there is no denying the abundant evidence that the Trump campaign sought, and was eager to accept, the assistance of a hostile foreign power bent on interfering in our election."