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GOP-led House panel clears Trump campaign in Russia probe

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Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, left, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee speak after closed meeting in Washington.

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29th-Apr-2018       
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AP, Washington :
The Republican-led House intelligence committee on Friday released a lengthy report concluding it found no evidence that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign, drawing praise from the president and rebuttals from Democrats.
The report caps an investigation that began with the promise of bipartisanship but quickly transformed into an acrimonious battle between Democrats and Republicans over Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and whether there were any connections with the Trump campaign.
Trump quickly claimed vindication Friday, calling the report "totally conclusive, strong, powerful, many things." "No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing. It's a witch hunt, that's all it is," he told reporters in the Oval Office.
But the committee's Republicans didn't let the Trump campaign completely off the hook. They specifically cited the Trump campaign for "poor judgment" in taking a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that was described in emails to Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father's presidential bid. The report also dubbed the campaign's praise of WikiLeaks "objectionable."
"While the committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns," the House intelligence committee wrote.
The House investigation is the first of several inquiries probing Russian election interference to conclude. A separate investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller continues, as do probes led by the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees. In a Friday night tweet, Trump repeated his "witch hunt" claim and wrote, "There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed."
The House report's conclusion on collusion is fiercely opposed by committee Democrats, who accused their Republican colleagues of playing "defense counsel" for the White House throughout the investigation.
"Committee Republicans chose not to seriously investigate - or even see, when in plain sight - evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia," Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement. Schiff cited several "secret meetings and communication" between people linked to Russia and Trump campaign officials, including Trump Jr. and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Schiff called on the committee to publicly release the transcripts from dozens of interviews with key witnesses, saying the public should be able to judge the evidence gathered by the committee. Democrats also released a 98-page rebuttal .

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