Rep. Rooney: House probe went off the rails

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, says the panel "lost its credibility," a big factor as to why GOP members announced they were shutting down the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Posted: Mar 14, 2018 8:23 AM
Updated: Mar 14, 2018 8:23 AM

After the House intelligence committee announced it was shutting down its probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, a Republican who sits on it said he believes the committee has lost its credibility.

"We have gone completely off the rails, and now we're basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news," GOP Rep. Tom Rooney said during an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

Earlier this month on "OutFront," Rooney called for the probe to end.

"We have lost all credibility and we're going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately," he said Monday. "So in that regard, that's why I called for the investigation to end."

The committee is widely expected to issue two competing reports: one from Republicans that concludes no evidence of collusion was found, and another from Democrats that argues a case for collusion, as well as spells out all the avenues the committee did not investigate.

Rooney pleaded with the members of his committee to come together before the 2018 midterms. "If we don't get any of these recommendations out before this cycle gets fully underway, then we really have just completely wasted a year of everybody's time," he said. "Hopefully we can salvage something positive out of this."

Rooney said that Republican members are still writing their report, which is expected to conclude that there's no evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

Burnett pressed the congressman on the issue. "I just want to be clear here. The intelligence community had originally said that they believed that the Russian intent was to hurt Hillary Clinton, but as it became clear that Donald Trump was a viable candidate, they then took it further," she said.

"They wanted to explicitly help Donald Trump. So you're saying you do agree?" Burnett asked. "You do concur with that conclusion by the intelligence community which they are standing by tonight?"

"I believe there's evidence of everything that you just said," the congressman replied. "But I also believe there's evidence to where they were trying to wreak havoc on both sides."

Burnett also read Rooney remarks from Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the Russia investigation: "The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in '16, and we think they will do that in the future," Conaway earlier told CNN's Manu Raju. "We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump."

Asked if his comments put him at odds with Conaway and other Republicans on the committee, Rooney said they did not.

"It's not completely the opposite," he said. "I think there were efforts to try to hurt Hillary and help Trump, but I think there was also the opposite too. I think their goal was to create mayhem so that any candidate that won -- and they did believe Hillary was going to win -- was to have that person bloodied and weakened so they would be able to use that in the future against us."

"I think there is absolutely evidence to show though they were trying to help Trump at some point, but also they were also trying to hurt our side as well," Rooney said. "There is evidence of both sides."

Rooney also said he saw classified evidence Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton, but planned to withhold it until after the election because they expected her to win.

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