Stewart on ending the Russia investigation: ‘It’s been months since we’ve learned anything new’

Rep. Chris Stewart says the reason Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee decided to end their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is there’s really nothing more to investigate.

Stewart spoke with via phone Tuesday morning about the committee’s initial report that concludes there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“After 15 months, I can’t even tell you how many witnesses we’ve talked to, 310,000 documents, we just haven’t seen any evidence of that,” said Stewart. “We’re not the only ones to reach that conclusion. No one else has found evidence of that either.”

Even though the House has finished their investigation into Russian interference, there are other probes still ongoing.

Stewart says he’s glad the investigation has concluded for now, because it was preventing the committee from tacking other important issues.

“I think we’ve just reached the point where it’s been months and months since we’ve learned anything new. There’s no lead we haven’t followed, and I think we have a commitment to the American people to give them our report along with the findings and recommendations before the next election,” said Stewart.

One of the chief criticisms being leveled against ending the House Intelligence Committee investigation is they haven’t spoken to some of the key figures in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Trump campaign advisors Rick Gates and George Papadopolous have not yet been interviewed by the committee. All four of them have been indicted by Mueller, and the last three have pled guilty.

Stewart says those criticisms are from people who are uninformed.

“We can’t interview them because they’re under indictment,” says Stewart. “Those are the rules of engagement. Anyone who argues otherwise is either uninformed, or they’re not being honest.”

Stewart also weighed in on Tuesday’s blockbuster news that President Donald Trump had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with CIA director Mike Pompeo. 

“I think it’s a good move, although I hate to see Mr. Tillerson go,” said Stewart. “I had breakfast with him not long ago, and I said to him, ‘Please stay, we need your voice here.’ I think he’s one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met, but for whatever reason, the president didn’t have the kind of relationship I think is important for that position.”

Stewart worked with Pompeo in the House when he represented a district in Kansas, and says he’s a good choice to head up the State Department. 

“I think Mike Pompeo is a good fit for that position and, in this one case, I actually think it’s a very great choice for the president.”