Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee announced Monday that they are prematurely shutting down their investigation into Russian interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign.
The announcement came after they apparently reached the opposite conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the 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.”
The end of the GOP-led investigation notably coincides with the start of primary elections. And it has the appearance of a partisan maneuver aimed at shielding Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller’s very credible — and very active — investigation.
“Republicans on the committee and in the House of Representatives think it is now time to conclude the panel’s investigation, according to people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ reports. “Republicans and Democrats on the House committee have said they would like to produce a bipartisan report, but relations on the panel have deteriorated to the point where such a task may be difficult.”
Similar to the failed memo stunt led by Rep. Devin Nunes, Republicans released the conclusions of the committee’s investigation without consulting or even showing the report to Democrats on the committee.
According to CNN, Republicans have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not trying to help Trump win the election when he ordered an intelligence operation aimed at influencing the presidential election.
But this is precisely the opposite conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community in a high confidence assessment released in January 2017. In their new release, Republicans referred to thatassessment as a “narrative” with which they disagreed.
The Republican report, which found no evidence to refer a single person for potential criminal prosecution, diverges sharply from Mueller’s investigation. Thus far, Mueller’s probe has brought about the indictment of 19 people and three companies, including four members of the Trump campaign.
Professor Steve Vladeck, a legal analyst for CNN, noted that the stark discrepancy between the conclusions reached by Republicans and the results of the ongoing special counsel investigation completely undermines the credibility of the House Intelligence Committee’s work.
But that’s not the only sign that the GOP report is lacking.
Republicans say they found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But that conclusion that was reached without even interviewing Trump or other key witnesses.
“The committee issued a subpoena to former White House chief strategist Bannon in January, but in his return testimony he still did not answer questions about his time in the White House,” CNN reported. “Democrats also sought subpoenas for the committee’s last two witnesses, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but Republicans did not issue them.”
Just four days ago, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called on the committee to bring Erik Prince in for a second interview after discrepancies in his testimony were revealed. Republicans also ignored this request.
Republicans also refused to issue subpoenas to look at Twitter messages between key figures like Donald Trump Jr., Roger Stone, and Julian Assange.
Furthermore, Republicans announced the end of their investigation before ever talking to the four Trump associates who are under indictment by special counsel Mueller: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign aide Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
All of this suggests that Republicans are prematurely ending the investigation to take some of the pressure off Trump. And it gives their base a shiny object to distract them as they head into what is shaping up to be a disastrous midterm election season.
It also suggests that they are worried about what they would find if they looked hard enough — so they simply stopped looking.
Republicans aren’t the only ones who are worried. As they wrap up their phony investigation, Trump is reportedly in the process of bringing an impeachment lawyer onto his legal team.
They’re all nervous, and they’re all getting desperate. But false reports and refusal to accept the facts won’t shield them from reality.