Democrats Question House Panel's Draft Report On Russia Probe

Mar 13, 2018
Originally published on March 16, 2018 10:46 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Republicans on the House intelligence committee say they have cleared President Trump's campaign. They say there was no collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Here's Texas Congressman Mike Conaway, the senior Republican leading the investigation. He was speaking to Fox News last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

MIKE CONAWAY: Yes, the Russians tried to interfere with our election process. Yes, they had cyberattacks, active measures going on. We could find no evidence of collusion between either campaign and the Russians.

GREENE: I want to bring in another lawmaker now who sits on the House intelligence committee. It's Democrat Joaquin Castro.

Congressman, good morning. Congressman, can you hear me?

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Good morning, thanks for having me.

GREENE: Good morning. Yeah, thanks for coming on. We appreciate it. So your Republican colleague, Congressman Conaway, said - finds no evidence of collusion. Have you seen any evidence of collusion?

CASTRO: Yeah, I strongly disagree with Congressman Conaway.

GREENE: Congressman, you still there? Might have lost...

CASTRO: ...That took place, like the June, 2016, meeting.

GREENE: Congressman, I apologize. But we're having some trouble hearing you. If - tell me, if you can, if you have seen any evidence of collusion, if you could start over again.

CASTRO: Yes, we have - the attempted meetings and the outreach, the email communication, the fact, for example, that Roger Stone knew ahead of time about the email dump, the June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower. So there's no question that there was collusion and attempted collusion. What we had a responsibility to do was to figure out just how damaging that has been to our democracy. And this really, in a sense, is a betrayal of the public trust because the House committee failed to do that job.

GREENE: I just - we should note here that even some Republicans have said that there may have been some sloppiness in terms of setting up some of the meetings you're talking about but that there was no clear evidence of collusion. That's a pretty serious charge you're making, saying that you now believe you have seen firm evidence of some sort of collusion with the campaign. You're really making that charge here.

CASTRO: Absolutely. Well, for example, if we focus in on one fact, the fact that Roger Stone, who was one of the first employees of the Trump campaign and a longtime confidant, knew ahead of time about the coming email dump, that, by itself, suggests that there was coordination beforehand.

GREENE: OK, so clear disagreement here. You and other Democrats seem to think there is more evidence to be looked at. What are your next steps here, because you don't have much authority at all, as the minority, to continue this investigation on the intelligence committee?

CASTRO: You're right. Democrats are in the minority. So we're not in control of what the committee does. I can't speak for all the Democrats. I'm fairly certain that we're going to end up doing our own report so that we can get out to the American people the information that we think needs to be read and also the lingering questions out there. This really was, when it's all said and done, conducted in a see-no-evil-hear-no-evil kind of way, unfortunately.

GREENE: Are you concerned that this conclusion from this House - from your House committee, could affect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation?

CASTRO: No, I think that Bob Mueller is running his own independent investigation. And unlike the House or the Senate (inaudible) people. He and his team are willing to do the due diligence of subpoenaing records - travel records, bank records, phone records - the kind of work that the House committee, unfortunately, under the majority, was unwilling to do.

GREENE: That is Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas who sits on the House intelligence committee. Congressman, we appreciate your time this morning.

CASTRO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.