After a lengthy investigation on claims of presidential election interference from the Russians in 2016, the House Intelligence Committee announced its findings.
The committee announced there was no evidence of election interference, only some facts that suggest poor decisions were made during the campaign.
The investigation was a hot topic ever since the results of the election were announced, with talks about the prospect of “Russian bots” influencing voters or manipulating election data to sway results. The accusations were met with both support and opposition from people on both sides, leaving a bit of confusion as to what the truth of the matter was.
Rep. Mike Conway, a republican from Texas who was leading the investigation, said: “We found no evidence of collusion, and so we found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings. We found no evidence of any collusion of anything people were actually doing, other than taking a meeting they shouldn’t have taken or just inadvertently being in the same building.”
He also said that Republican staffers had prepared a report to give to Democrats to review on the matter. 73 witnesses were interviewed and about 300,000 documents resulted from these sessions.
Such a massive story with the potential to influence an entire country’s political and social climate made the investigation and the period preceding it both very tense. Some media outlets, such as CNN, were forced to retract stories linking President Donald Trump to Russia based on anonymous sources.
The eagerness of mainstream media companies to break the first news about this massive event may have also damaged their credibility and led more viewers to distrust them than before.
Any connection between either of the 2016 presidential candidates to Russia sparked rumors and conspiracies of collusion, with some meetings getting more criticism than others.
For example, Trump Tower hosted a meeting between a senior campaign official and a Russian lawyer in June 2016 where dirt on Hilary Clinton was reportedly promised. This meeting is one Conway said was “ill advised” and could’ve fueled speculation about collusion.
Two senate committees are still investigating possible interference, though a couple topics haven’t received a lot of attention.
For one, Clinton’s connections with the Russians seemed financially motivated. As Putin expressed a desire for more uranium and Russians began slowly taking control of Uranium One, a massive organization in the uranium industry, cash reportedly flowed into the Clinton Foundation. This could’ve been another ill-advised move, as it brought up accusations of connections and collusion that went all the way back to the Obama administration.
There was also the release of confidential documents by WikiLeaks which seemed to show a plan by the Democratic Party to take the nomination from party frontrunner Bernie Sanders and give it to Clinton instead. Findings also suggested that Clinton was given debate questions earlier than other participants.
But with the initial investigation concluded, it could be time for the country to finally move on and discuss strategies for avoiding this incident again in the future.