In his “Meet the Press” interview on Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reaffirmed the conclusion reached in a report regarding Russian influence on the presidential election, prepared during his watch by the intelligence services and the FBI. They concluded that there was no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump or his campaign and the Russian government to influence the presidential election in President Trump’s favor. Mr. Clapper said: “We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, ‘our,’ that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.”
While he could not speak as to any evidence that might have emerged since he left office, Mr. Clapper said that at the time of the report’s preparation in which he participated, “we had no evidence of such collusion.”
Without hard evidence of such collusion, there is no _real _scandal engulfing the Trump White House capable of bringing down President Trump. But that does not stop congressional Democrats, their leftist base and their friends in the mainstream media from trying to conjure up a phony scandal of alleged collusion. They replace proof and real facts with rumors, unsourced innuendos, and conspiracy theories based on guilt by association.
The New York Times precipitated the unfounded rumors of collusion in an article appearing on February 14th. The article claimed that, according to four unnamed current and former American officials, phone records and intercepted calls show that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.” Even though the article confirmed that, so far, the officials providing the reporters the information on which they based their article had seen no evidence of collusion, the officials were alarmed by the sheer volume of contacts “occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”
The mere existence of contacts does not prove wrongful intent. Without more, it is merely an exercise in guilt by association. The New York Times article admitted the absence of certain relevant information, such as “to what extent the contacts might have been about business,” “whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself,” “what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians.” Moreover, there was nothing in the article to indicate a sudden significant uptick in contacts between Russian officials and individuals involved in the Trump campaign last year versus previous years when Mr. Trump was not a candidate.
In short, there was nothing of substance pointing to collusion in this New York Times story. It cited nothing to contradict the intelligence service and FBI findings Mr. Clapper reaffirmed, which concluded that there was no evidence of collusion. However, the article’s pile of innuendos from unnamed sources have provided fodder for Democrats intent on destroying the Trump presidency. They are resorting to innuendos of their own to keep alive the specter of a Watergate style scandal that must remain front page news at all cost. And the mainstream media is all too happy to oblige. They all hope that sooner or later the Obama era holdouts, still spread throughout the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies, will find the proverbial smoking gun to leak to the press.
Delaware Senator Chris Coons reached a new low when he told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell last Friday that the FBI has “transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin, were cooperating, were colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election.”
“Do such transcripts exist? Is that what you’re saying?” Andrea Mitchell asked Senator Coons in a follow up question. “I have not seen them. I believe they exist,” Senator Coons responded.
Senator Coons walked back his original statement during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “I have no hard evidence of collusion,” he said. “So to the extent of those comments, they might be in some way misinterpreted as leading to sort of a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that. That’s not what I was trying to do.”
Hyperventilating? Not what he was trying to do? Senator Coons deliberately tried to leave the misleading impression that a potentially incriminating FBI transcript existed. Only when pressed did he admit that it was only his belief, not something that he actually knew to be true.
Compounding such deception, Democrats are busy trying to blow up run-of-the mill meetings with a Russian ambassador into a cloak-and-dagger affair. Thus, for example, we are supposed to believe that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, last fall, which he held while still serving as a U.S. senator in his senate office in the presence of career staffers, may have been part of some nefarious scheme to tilt the election. Ambassador Kislyak has also met over the years with several Democratic senators. And he visited the White House at least 22 times between 2009 and 2016, according to the Daily Caller. Should we infer a conspiracy from all those meetings?
If the meetings and contacts involving Russian officials and Trump campaign surrogates such as Attorney General Sessions were designed to result in some sort of outcome beneficial to both sides, there is little evidence so far that the Russians got what they supposedly bargained for. On the Ukraine and Syria, for example, senior Trump administration officials have taken as hard a line against Russia as their predecessors in the Obama administration.
Democrats and their friends in the media are throwing whatever they can against the wall and hope something will stick. So far, nothing has. It’s all smoke and no fire. But no doubt they will keep trying until the cows come home.