Questions over Russian involvement in the election have plagued Donald Trump’s presidency. (ABC)
Russia ran an information warfare campaign to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election, but there is no evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow, Republicans on a congressional panel said in a report.
- The 253-page report came after Republicans voted in March to end the committee’s investigation
- In response, Donald Trump tweeted the “witch hunt” must end
- But the Democrats claim the Republican report lacks seriousness
The findings of majority Republicans on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee were immediately challenged by minority Democrats following a year of rancorous disputes on a panel whose role is to oversee intelligence agencies in a spirit of bipartisanship.
Republicans, over Democratic objections, voted in March to end the committee’s investigation of election meddling.
The 253-page report was seized on by Mr Trump, who posted its conclusions on Twitter and repeated his view that the Russian investigation is “A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!” despite probes by a US special counsel and other congressional committees that are still open.
@realdonaldTrump: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded
Mr Trump has repeatedly denied receiving help from Moscow for his election campaign, and the Kremlin denies any meddling in the election.
The heavily redacted Republican report contains little new information about Russia’s election interference or the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
But it criticises an array of actors for their response to the election meddling.
Then-president Barack Obama’s response to Russia’s actions was insufficient, it said, while the FBI’s notification to hacking victims was “inadequate”.
The report said the Trump campaign should not have held a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians who claimed to have damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, nor praised and communicated with WikiLeaks, which released documents hacked by Russia.
The Democrats allege the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to disrupt the Clinton campaign. (Reuters: Carlos Barria/Jonathan Ernst, file)
The interaction with WikiLeaks was “highly objectionable and inconsistent with US national security interests”, it said.
In the US election campaign, the report said Twitter identified 36,746 automated accounts and 2,752 human-operated accounts linked to the Russian effort.
Russian operatives used paid advertising on Facebook to reach 5 million Americans, it said.
Democrats hit back with own report
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released their own 98-page report, which charged that the Republican document “reflects a lack of seriousness and interest in pursuing the truth”.
“Throughout the investigation, Committee Republicans chose not to seriously investigate — or even see, when in plain sight — evidence of collusion,” the panel’s top Democrat Adam Schiff said in a statement.
Mr Schiff said the Democrats would continue their own investigation and this week “received new documents from another important witness”.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own investigation of Russia and the 2016 election.