Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only person in the world who can answer if Moscow pushed to get President Donald Trump elected, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Chris Stewart insisted Thursday.
"I just don't think we know for certain, and there's only one person in the world, and I really mean this, there's only one person in the world who can actually answer that question, and that's Vladimir Putin," the Utah Republican told CNN.
He made the comment while responding to a bipartisan statement from the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday that the Russian effort had been ordered by Putin himself to help Trump and harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Their statement sharply contrasted with the one from Republicans with the House Intelligence Committee, which determined that Russia had not sought to boost then-Republican candidate Trump.
"I think our committee and my concern wasn't so much with whether he was trying to hurt Hillary or help Mr. Trump, because really there are different sides of the same coin but have the same outcome," said Stewart. "Our concern was if the CIA and those other associated intelligence agencies, were they careful in their analysis, did they go through proper tradecraft and proper review of their conclusions? From our report we felt like they didn't do a great job."
Stewart denied a contention that his committee's ruling was a big point in its report, saying that the determination was one of 47 suggestions and carried no more weight than the other suggestions.
Also, he said, "I don't know that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee [Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.] has seen anything that I haven't seen. It would be an interesting question. Ask him, has he been out to the CIA like I have and spent hours out there like I have looking at this information."
Stewart said committee members spent thousands of hours seeking information, as "this is a very important thing to know, and we wanted to be careful lin coming to our conclusion and I think that we were."
He clarified that when he says he spent days at CIA, he means he spent hours over the course of the investigation, but he said he found issues to question about the CIA's tradecratft.
"They had a fusion cell that I think they've talked about, but was that fusion cell isolated?" said Stewart. "Did they have -- go through proper review which any intelligence analysis...this is a very important issue. You're saying that one of the candidates for president of the United States may have been influenced or helped by a foreign government and I think if you're going to say that, you've got to be extraordinarily careful that you've gone through the right procedures and you've got a very thorough review of that analysis and once again, we didn't feel like they had been as careful as they should have been."
Stewart admitted that special counsel Robert Mueller may find something, but there is "every indication from him and others he hasn't found evidence of collusion. If there was -- I say this tongue in cheek, if there was, it would have been leaked because everything else has been leaked."
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