One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that, when it comes to the topic of whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 election, the focus has shifted. At one point, we were regularly hearing about “bombshell” leaks that mostly had to do with connections between the campaign and the Russians. But lately, all of that has gone pretty quiet. Instead, we’ve been subjected to a whole stream of conspiracy theories from the right in an attempt to undermine the investigation.
That shift has changed the narrative most Americans have been hearing about this story and is why the remarks Rep. Adam Schiff made at a newsmaker breakfast yesterday are not only significant, but worth repeating. He pointed out that “there is already ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you are willing to see it.” Here is the evidence:
— Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about talking in April 2016 to a professor with close ties to the Kremlin who told Papadopoulos that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The professor told him about thousands of emails the Russians had from the Clinton campaign.
— Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower in June 2016 after being promised “dirt” on Clinton. The campaign later communicated to meeting organizers that they were disappointed they didn’t get what they were promised.
— In July 2017, the president and White House advisers put together a misleading statement about the nature of the Trump Tower meeting, saying that it was for the purpose of discussing Russian adoptions.
— The Trump campaign knew through Papadopoulos that the Russians had obtained thousands of emails from the Clinton campaign. Then-candidate Trump publicly asked the Russians in July 2016 to hack Clinton and find her “30,000 emails that are missing” from the personal email server she used while secretary of State. WikiLeaks began posting emails from the Clinton campaign in October, just weeks before the November election.
— Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn held secret conversations with Russian officials in December 2016 during the presidential transition period, promising to undermine sanctions imposed against Russia by the Obama administration for meddling in the U.S. election. Flynn pleaded guilty late last year to lying to the FBI about those conversations.
That is a great summary, but it only covers information that is already in the public domain. It is very likely that the Mueller team has amassed a whole lot more.
Schiff went on to make another very important point. He noted that it is Robert Mueller’s job to determine if there is enough evidence to prove a conspiracy charge that would stand up in court. But that isn’t the bar by which Congress or the American public should judge this president. The question is whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power in an attempt to influence the election. We already have the answer to that one.