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Rep. Trey Gowdy disagrees with GOP colleagues in House probe, says Russia wanted to hurt Clinton

Kevin Breuninger

Rep. Trey Gowdy , R-S.C., on Tuesday contradicted his own GOP-led committee's findings in its probe of Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. election.

In a statement, Gowdy said it was "clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed."

The statement from Gowdy, who is not seeking re-election at the end of his current term, cuts against conclusions announced Monday by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee.

Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said on Monday that the committee, which has been active for more than a year, has finished conducting interviews as part of its investigation. In his statement, Nunes thanked Gowdy, as well as Republican Reps. Tom Rooney of Florida and Mike Conaway of Texas, "for the excellent job they've done leading this investigation."

But Gowdy's Tuesday statement appeared to contradict the initial findings of his own investigation, which said it disagreed with the intelligence community's prior judgments "with respect to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump."

Emily Hytha, a spokeswoman for Conaway, said that the assessment of the intelligence community "did not meet minimum tradecraft standards for drawing a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the Russians were trying to help President Trump. What was clear throughout our investigation is that the Russians were trying to divide country any way they could."

Ranking committee member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., excoriated his Republican colleagues for their "capitulation to the executive branch" on Monday and said his party will continue to investigate.

The intense polarization in the committee was ossified during a protracted duel over declassified memos earlier this year — a Republican memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses and a Democratic rebuttal defending the bureau's methods.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, is the only Republican on the committee who read the underlying surveillance court documents from which the GOP memo was drawn.

President Donald Trump celebrated the committee Republicans' initial findings in an all-caps tweet on Monday evening.

The initial report from the House committee also said it "found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians," a statement Gowdy echoed on Tuesday.

"No witness provided evidence — direct or circumstantial — of collusion, coordination or conspiracy," Gowdy said.

However, Gowdy said Russia's attempts to divide Americans are "crystal clear."

"Russia's ultimate goal was to turn Americans against Americans, undercut our confidence in the electoral process, and sow the seeds of discord," he said. "On that measure, we are in direct control — as Americans — of whether they succeed or not."

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