Did GOP Knowingly Overlook Trump-Russia Contacts During House Probe?

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A new report suggests the House Intelligence Committee failed to interview a number of high-profile members of the Trump team with alleged ties to Russia.

Earlier this month, the House Intelligence Committee Republicans concluded their Russia investigation, claiming they found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump's election campaign and the Kremlin's efforts to influence the vote.

Recently, the committee, headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), voted along the party lines to release the majority’s report on the probe.

The House GOP’s decision to shut down the meddling probe drew a lot of criticism, particularly from the Democrats on the panel, who blasted the conclusion as “premature.”

However, a new report suggests the decision may not have been premature at all. In fact, it could have been very well-deliberated on the Republicans’ part.

According to the Center for American Progress' Moscow Project, the committee did not investigate a number of alleged contacts and meetings that took place between the members of the Trump team and Russian officials. If anything, it appears the committee may have overlooked these leads altogether.

“In total, we have learned of 70 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 22 meetings,” read the report by the Democratic-aligned group. “And we know that at least 22 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.”

Out of 22 such people, 12 met directly with Kremlin-linked operatives while the other 10 were aware of such connections.

Those who allegedly had direct contact with the Russians included president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, private military contractor and informal adviser Erik Prince, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former National Security Director J.D. Gordon, former National Security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign political adviser Roger Stone, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.

Officials who reportedly had the knowledge of such contacts included Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former press secretary Sean Spicer, senior advisor Stephen Miller, senior advisor Sam Clovis, deputy national security advisor K.T. McFarland, former Trump campaign official Rick Gates and Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert.

As the Moscow Project reported, the committee reportedly did not interview a majority of these people. In cases where it did talk to some of the above-mentioned officials, it was only able to obtain partial information.

The group also listed 15 instances where members of the Trump team falsely denied having any ties with Russian officials — like Sessions, who was accused of lying on his SF-86 security clearance form, which requires senior government officials to disclose any foreign contacts. He answered “no” to having any contact with any foreign government over the past seven years, but later admitted meeting with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak at least twice in 2016.

While the report about the House Intelligence Committee’s supposed Russia investigation does not come as much of a surprise, it is definitely disturbing to see the lengths Republican leadership will go to protect Trump.

Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst/Leah Millis

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