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House Intel Committee votes to release GOP report on Russia probe

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Rep. Adam Schiff speaks to reporters after a House Intelligence Committee meeting on March 22, 2018. (CNN Newsource)

The House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to release a Republican-authored report on its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The majority report will need to go through a declassification review before the public sees it, but Republicans did publish their final findings and recommendations. A one-page summary of the report released last week stated no evidence was found that President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded or coordinated with the Russian government, a conclusion Trump welcomed on Twitter.

Among the other findings released Thursday were several acknowledgments of Russian efforts to undermine the U.S. electoral process through social media and cyber-attacks, criticism of the Obama administration’s “insufficient” response to Russian activities, and allegations that the intelligence community used poor tradecraft to conclude Russia wanted to help Trump.

While the findings raise concerns about the FBI’s use of a Democratic opposition research document to justify surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page, Republicans also note that Page offered “seemingly incomplete accounts” of his activities in Moscow.

The document also criticizes leaks from the intelligence community that Republicans allege “have damaged national security and potentially endangered lives.” It singles out former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, for providing “inconsistent testimony” regarding his contacts with the media, including CNN.

The Republicans recommend numerous steps to fortify protections against foreign interference in elections on the federal, state, and local level. They also suggest increasing penalties for unauthorized leaks of classified information and implementing mandatory polygraph testing for all non-confirmed political appointees with top secret clearance.

Democrats on the committee, who plan to produce their own report, complain that leads were left unexplored and many questions remain unanswered.

“We had a series of motions that we wished to offer including holding Steve Bannon in contempt, something which was made necessary by Steve Bannon's refusal to answer broad categories of questions and his only commitment was to answer 25 or 24 questions that were written out for him by the White House,” ranking Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters after the committee vote Thursday.

He added that the minority intends to continue its own probe.