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GOP panel members vote to release Russia report; Dems dismissive

By Sommer Brokaw
GOP panel members vote to release Russia report; Dems dismissive
House intelligence committee Chair Devin Nunes (R) and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff hear testimony during hearings on Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill on March 20, 2017. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

March 22 (UPI) -- House intelligence committee Republicans voted Thursday to release their report that concludes there was no collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia prior to the 2016 election.

The committee officially ended its investigation this week and said it will release the final GOP-authored report, pending redaction of classified information.

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The panel voted to release the report mainly along party lines, with Democrats saying they do not sanction its findings. They also vowed to continue the investigation.

"It really is a fundamentally flawed document and there's not much that can rescue it," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said.

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"This report, based on 70-plus witness interviews and more than 300,000 documents collected, provides specific findings and recommendations to improve our election security before the mid-term election," the GOP release said Thursday. "The report, which will include [Democrats'] views if [they submit] them, presents the comprehensive results of what the committee has learned during its fourteen-month-long investigation, and will be useful in thwarting any attempts by Russia or other foreign powers to further meddle in U.S. elections."

Among its findings, the report found "possible Russian efforts to set up a 'back channel' with Trump associates after the election suggest the absence of collusion during the campaign, since the communication associated with collusion would have rendered such a 'back channel' unnecessary."

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The report does find that Russian intelligence "leveraged social media to sow social discord and to undermine the U.S. Electoral process," and that the Obama administration's post-election response to Russian hacking was "insufficient."

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The report matches the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, which agreed last year that Moscow was responsible for hacking Democratic National Committee computers and forwarding sensitive information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to WikiLeaks.

Trump has called the four U.S. Russia investigations -- in the Justice Department, the House and two in the Senate -- a "witch hunt."

A new study by the Center for American Progress' Moscow Project, an advocacy group with ties to the Democratic party, said the committee "left gaping holes in their so-called investigation."

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There were 70 known contacts and 22 meetings between Trump's team and Russia-tied operatives, and the House committee obtained no or partial information in 81 percent of the cases, the study said.

Some Trump associates cited in the Moscow Project study include Roger Stone, a campaign adviser who contacted WikiLeaks, and Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort -- who have been indicted in connection with the Russia probe.

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The GOP-authored summary states that none of the charges Manafort faces "relate to allegations of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government."

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