US: House panel denies Russia-Trump campaign ties

US: House panel denies Russia-Trump campaign ties
# 27 April 2018 20:23 (UTC +04:00)

The Republican-controlled House intelligence committee released Friday its final report on Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 White House race, finding no evidence to support claims of Trump campaign collusion with the effort as Democrats cried foul, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

The report faults Russia for a "multifaceted, persistent" campaign that was "effective in sowing division" within the American society in the run-up to the polls.

It also heaped blame on America's intelligence community for "tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in" it for its determination in attempting to show that the effort was aimed at helping President Donald Trump secure the Oval Office.

Trump has adamantly insisted neither he nor his campaign colluded with the effort and has been resolute in his belief the Russian effort did not bolster his chances of winning.

Following the report's release, Trump again reiterated his claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the matter is a "total Witch Hunt" that "MUST END NOW!"

Mueller is helming the sole non-congressional investigation into Russia and potential Trump campaign involvement, and has been a constant target of Trump's ire.

Retweeting the president, Representative Adam Schiff, the House panel's ranking Democrat, insisted that to determine there was no collusion would be to ignore troves of evidence that indicates otherwise.

"Mr. President, to conclude there is 'no evidence' of collusion, you must ignore Russia’s extensive efforts to help your campaign, the litany of communications between Russia & your campaign, & the massive effort to conceal these contacts," Schiff said.

The report's release comes as a Russian lawyer who met in June 2016 with Trump campaign officials at the then-candidate's eponymous Manhattan tower acknowledged her ties to Russia were more extensive than she initially led on.

Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr., senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign chief Paul Manafort during the Trump Tower meeting under the pretense of having dirt on Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

Veselnitskaya will say in a yet-to-be-aired NBC News interview that in addition to being an attorney, she is also a Russian informant who has actively communicated with the country's prosecutor general since 2013, according to the New York Times.

The admission follows the public release of her emails that indicated her initial claim that she was solely a private lawyer proved untrue.

She previously denied any relationship with Yuri Chaika, the Russian prosecutor general, in a statement to the Senate judiciary committee.

"I have no relationship with Mr. Chaika, his representatives, and institutions, other than those related to my professional functions of a lawyer," she said.