The Democratic minority on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has issued a rebuttal report to the GOP majority’s report that was released this morning. The Democratic minority report can be found here. As I indicated earlier regarding the majority report, I’ve only had a chance to give this a quick read and won’t have a chance to do a deep dive until later in the weekend. I do want to note a couple of points from the introduction.
One year later, the Committee’s Majority has shattered its commitment by rushing to end its investigation prematurely, even as it continues to investigate President Donald Trump’s political opponents, our intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and diplomatic corps, and former members of the Administration of President Barack Obama.
In so doing, the Majority has not only failed to meet the mandate given to the HPSCI by the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader, but they have engaged in a systematic effort to muddy the waters, and to deflect attention away from the President, most recklessly in their assault on the central pillars of the rule of law. Their report, as with their overall conduct o f the investigation, is unworthy of this Committee, the House of Representatives, and most importantly, the American people, who arc now left to try to discern what is true and what is not.
The Majority’s report reflects a lack of seriousness and interest in pursuing the truth. By refusing to call in key witnesses, by refusing to request pertinent documents, and by refusing to compel and enforce witness cooperation and answers to key questions, the Majority hobbled the Committee’s ability to conduct a credible investigation that could inspire public confidence. The Majority’s conduct has also undermined Congress’ independent investigative authority. Their repeated deferrals to the White House allowed witnesses to refuse cooperation, and permitted the Administration to dictate the terms of their interaction with Congress, or evade congressional oversight altogether, setting a damaging precedent for future non-cooperation by this President and, possibly, by his successors.
These Views memorialize the Minority’s profound disappointment with and objections to the manner in which the Majority subverted this investigation, and highlight for the public some of the most glaring misrepresentations, distortions, and inaccuracies in the Majority’s report.
A majority of the report’s findings are misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record. They have been crafted to advance a political narrative that exonerates the President, downplays Russia’s preference and support for then-candidate Trump, explains away repeated contacts by Trump associates with Russia-aligned actors, and seeks to shift suspicion towards President Trump’s political opponents and the prior administration.
One can find no better example of the Majority’s willingness to contort facts to support its politicized narrative than the report’s Finding #35. The Majority argues that evidence that Trump associates sought after the election to establish secret back channels to communicate with the Russians without the U.S. government finding out – and then lied about it – actually proves there was no collusion with Russia. The sophistry of this kind of analysis, and the report as a whole, wither under scrutiny. Even before its public release, the report suffered in the face of public revelations that bear directly on the investigation and contradicted the Majority’s conclusions.
The actions of both the majority and minority on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in releasing their reports come as either new information is coming to light or older information is being fleshed out regarding the June 2016 meeting between Russian assets/proxies and Donald Trump, Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower in NY, as well as other Russian attempts to establish connections with the President and/or members of his campaign.
MOSCOW (AP) — An organization established by an exiled Russian tycoon says it has obtained emails showing collaboration between Russian government officials and the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in 2016.
— Eric Tucker (@etuckerAP) April 27, 2018
A day after Trump Tower meeting, the Russian oligarch who orchestrated mtg sent Trump an expensive painting for his birthday. Trump's response: "There are few things better than receiving a sensational gift from someone you admire," per @jeremyherb https://t.co/apbvIkkSoP
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 27, 2018
Oh, Russia asked to set up a Trump backchannel using the NRA. House GOPs refused to investigate. pic.twitter.com/54roaXRolL
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 27, 2018
NRA, facing scrutiny over ties to Russia, setting aside years of documents related to Alexander Torshin, per @SaraMurray. Dems on HPSCI doc today cited emails showing Russia wanted to use NRA convention in 2016 to make 'first contact' with Trump camp. https://t.co/pohL6RunXP
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 27, 2018
The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The NRA has faced fresh scrutiny from congressional investigators about its finances and ties to Alexander Torshin, one of the 17 prominent Russian government officials the US Treasury Department recently slapped with sanctions. The gun-rights group has said it is reexamining its relationship with Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member, in the wake of the sanctions.
The renewed attention has highlighted the close-knit if sometimes uneasy alliance between top NRA officials and Torshin — a relationship that ensnared members of Trump’s team during the presidential campaign, inviting further congressional scrutiny.
Those inquiries could shed light on the tightly held fundraising practices and political activities of the NRA. The political powerhouse shelled out more than $30 million in 2016 to back Donald Trump’s candidacy — more than it spent on 2008 and 2012 political races combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Vice President Mike Pence is slated to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas next Friday, an official told CNN.
The NRA recently found itself facing allegations that the FBI was investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money through the group to bolster Trump, according to a McClatchy report. The NRA has publicly denied any contact from the FBI and insisted it hasn’t accepted illegal donations.Despite the public denials, officials at the gun-rights group have been anxiously preparing as if they were already under investigation, sources said. Some employees have been tasked with preserving years of documents mentioning Torshin or his associate, Maria Butina, who runs a pro-guns group in Russia, a source familiar with the situation said. Privately, some officials have expressed anxiety about a potential investigation and the group’s Russian ties.
Much more at the link.
Despite the dysfunction on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence the investigation into Russian active measures and cyberwarfare during the 2016 campaign will not end here. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is still conducting its investigation as is the Special Counsel’s Office. Moreover, the British and Canadian Parliaments are both engaging in their own investigations into Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, there corroboration with Facebook, and how all of this is connected and may also be connected to Russia. Finally, Putin’s efforts to weaken the US and its NATO and EU allies and partners won’t be ending any time soon either.
Stay right where you are!