Republican representative Mike Conaway gave the game away when he made a bit of an admission on Meet the Press:
“Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea,” Conaway said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“So we really weren’t focused on that direction.”
A spokesperson for Conaway later hustled out to say that the Texas congressman meant obstruction, not collusion. But the evidence that the House Intelligence Committee diligently avoided looking into both in their supposed investigation of Trump–Russia continues to grow.
According to the Center for American Progress’s Moscow Project, the House committee charged with investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election obtained either no or incomplete information about 81 percent of the known contacts between Trump officials and Russians, or groups and individuals with strong Russia ties like Wikileaks.
How did the committee conduct an “investigation” that found no evidence of collusion? Talking to Michael Flynn would be flat out. So they didn’t. Talking to Paul Manafort might raise doubts. So they skipped him. And they skipped 55 other people who were on Democratic Representative Adam Schiff’s list of requested witnesses. For the people who did show up, the Republicans allowed some, like Corey Lewandowski, to answer only those questions they wanted to answer. For others, like Steve Bannon, they allowed the witness to create their own questions—which Bannon then answered by just saying the word “No” twenty-three times.
According to the Center for American Progress report, no fewer than twenty-two Trump officials knew about the contacts between the campaign and Russia … and somehow, the House Intelligence Committee failed to find them.
The CAP Moscow Project report provides one of the most comprehensive timelines for connections between Trump and Russia so far published, and particularly documents the efforts Trump had made to cover-up these activities.
In short—Mike Conaway may believe it wasn’t the job of the House Intelligence Committee to look at collusion and obstruction, but the Center for American Progress took on that task, without the committee’s access to confidential information, and found plenty of evidence of both.
Members of the Trump team who had contacts with Russians during the campaign or transition include:
• Michael Cohen
• Donald Trump Jr.
• Paul Manafort
• Jared Kushner
• Michael Flynn
• George Papadopoulos
• Roger Stone
• Jeff Sessions
• J.D. Gordon
• Carter Page
• Erik Prince
• Anthony Scaramucci
That’s the short list of just those officials who are known to have direct contact on their own, and doesn’t include the others who were aware of those contacts. The brief 12-page report also does a more than adequate job of showing how the Trump campaign worked to obstruct investigation into their contacts.
Take the infamous meeting on June 9, 2016 in Trump Tower, attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, that was for the express purpose of obtaining information from the Russian government that would help the Trump campaign. None of them reported the meeting, and Trump Jr. went to significant lengths to hide its true nature. When The New York Times found out about the meeting, Trump Jr. first lied to the Times about the purpose of the meeting, saying it was about adoptions. When confronted with evidence that he had lied, he changed his story—but the cover-up did not stop there. The Trump team also tried to hide the President’s involvement in the initial false statement from his son. Not only was the President heavily involved in the drafting of the statement, but former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo later revealed that that during a conference call with President Trump and Hope Hicks, Hicks said that “emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting […] will never get out.”
The Republican report on the investigation avoids all this. It instead focuses on Devin Nunes’s claims that the Obama administration unfairly launched investigations of Trump’s staff.
Collusion. Obstruction. Unmasking.
One of these items really was not in the charge given to the House Intelligence Committee. But that’s the only one they’ve decided to see.