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House Intel Republican says panel did not investigate collusion

The Hill logo The Hill 3/18/2018 Brett Samuels
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Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said Sunday the House Intelligence Committee was not tasked with investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, despite the committee issuing a report last week stating it found no evidence of collusion in the 2016 election.

"Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea," Conaway said on "Meet The Press."

"So we really weren't focused on that direction."

Conaway led the committee's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the committee's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-Calif.) recused himself.

Last week, Conaway announced the end of the committee's probe, and laid out a number of conclusions reached by GOP members in their initial report. Among those conclusions was the assertion that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The report drew strong criticism from committee Democrats, who said the committee came to no such conclusion.

Conaway on Sunday acknowledged the committee did not interview former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and other key figures, because he didn't want to overlap with special counsel Robert Mueller's criminal investigation.

"We're trying to stay away from the Mueller investigation and not confuse that or hurt it one way or the other," he said.

When asked if he regrets that the committee attempted to draw a conclusion on whether the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign, Conaway denied that the committee drew a conclusion at all.

"What we said is we found no evidence of it," he said. "That's a different statement. We found no evidence of collusion."

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