Donald Trump’s friends on Capitol Hill have delivered.
The President is now wielding a powerful new weapon in his war of credibility with America’s spy agencies over their view that Russia helped put him in the White House, after House Republicans suddenly shuttered their probe into election meddling.
“THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION,” Trump wrote in an exuberant tweet on Monday night.
The committee stunned Washington most by taking direct aim at the assessment by US spy chiefs that President Vladimir Putin engineered the Russian election meddling operation specifically to hurt Hillary Clinton and benefit Trump.
That finding squares with Trump’s view that the Russia story is nothing but a hoax and a witch hunt designed by Clinton sympathizers to explain the Democratic nominee’s shock election defeat in 2016.
Trump supporters are certain to use the finding, issued with the imprimatur of a House committee, to argue that it is time for America to move on from the endless recriminations of the election, which have cast an unmovable cloud over Trump’s White House.
While Monday’s report is clearly a partisan, political document — committee Democrats were not briefed before its release — it is all but certain to be used by Trump to discredit intelligence assessments and to proclaim his innocence. But it also comes as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appears to be accelerating — and it’s unlikely to affect his work.
Findings could reignite calls to dismiss Mueller
Details of the Republican conclusions contradict an account laid out by Mueller of a campaign by Russian entities to disparage Clinton and support Trump, shown in the indictment of 13 Russians issued last month.
With that in mind, the House panel’s move may spur calls by Trump allies for the dismissal of Mueller and the further politicization of the entire Russia question, which is fueling doubts that the GOP-led Congress would ever hold the President to account should the special counsel eventually find wrongdoing by him or his campaign team.
“I think this will reignite those who want to take out Mueller after they were undercut in the wake of those indictments,” CNN analyst and former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd said on “The Situation Room” on Monday night.
In the light of recent attacks on Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing his work, mounted a firm defense of the special counsel in an interview with USA Today on Monday.
By: Stephen Collinson, CNN