Republicans aren’t even trying to hide the fact that they’re shamelessly trying to cover their tracks ahead of the 2018 midterm elections with the dramatic move today to announce that the House Intelligence Committee found “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
The Wall Street Journal reported that House Intelligence Committee “has finished interviewing witnesses in its yearlong probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the matter, signaling the end is near of a contentious investigation that has revealed deep partisan divisions on the panel.”
Rep. K. Michael Conway (R-TX) told The New York Times, “The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in ’16, and we think they will do that in the future,” Mr. Conaway said. But, he added, “We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
This announcement comes just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation into the same issue. It makes the Republicans look especially shortsighted, since Mueller’s discovery of new evidence near-daily means they are actively ignoring new lines of inquiry in the investigation.
Conaway waved off questions of inaccuracy in the committee’s findings.
“But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take these series of inadvertent contacts with each other, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a fiction and turn it into a page-turner, spy thriller,” he said.
The House Intelligence Committee interviewed Corey Lewandowski, their final witness on Thursday. It is preparing a 150-page draft of its recommendations to turn over to the Democrats. The Democratic investigation continues, and its leadership condemned the Republicans for cutting this endeavor short.
Many key witnesses whose names we all know from the Mueller investigation never appeared before the House Intelligence Committee. Those include Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos, all of whom have been indicted by the Special Counsel and most of whom have agreed to cooperate with his investigation.
Something doesn’t add up here.
While the investigations started almost exactly a year ago were supposed to be a well-organized endeavor of bipartisan cooperation, what actually played out was a circus of partisan infighting that accomplished little beyond disgraceful political spectacle. Republicans and Democrats spent the majority of this year arguing over dueling memorandums, alleging various improprieties connected to the investigation into the President.
With the end of this Republican investigation, there is now only one committee investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians – apart from Mueller’s team, who are proceeding slowly but surely in their efforts to nail the president and his cronies for the all the crimes they’ve committed.
But even with this obvious defensive move, it might be too little, too late for Republicans. Mueller’s investigation is too public and too far along to keep the truth from the American people. It’s only a matter of time before someone puts the pieces together, and the Republicans will look even stupider for having willfully shoved their heads in the sand on this one. Good luck crafting messaging around that failure for 2018 midterms.