Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, threw cold water on Trump’s witch hunt claims by saying that there is evidence of a Trump/Russia criminal conspiracy.
BRENNAN: Congressman, before we go any farther, because I want to draw a distinction. Since we have been saying here that some of the facts can get muddled here in the president’s language, I want to make sure we’re being precise in our conversation.
Can you agree that there has been no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy that has been presented thus far between the Trump campaign and Russia?
SCHIFF: No, I don’t agree with that at all.
I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight. Now, that’s a different statement than saying that there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy. Bob Mueller will have to determine that.
But, of course, the entire meeting at Trump Tower…
BRENNAN: Right. So, you acknowledge that the FBI has not presented it thus far?
SCHIFF: No, what — Margaret…
BRENNAN: I’m drawing this distinction because this is what the White House is arguing here, that the president is drawing a distinction, that he is saying, when he says hoax and witch-hunt, that he means one thing, and that it’s not really trying to disassociate himself from what his national security team says.
SCHIFF: Well, first of all, we haven’t seen what Bob Mueller has produced in terms of the evidence yet. So in terms of FBI proof, they’re not going to present proof to the Congress. We’re doing our own investigation.
And we have revealed evidence, I think, that certainly goes to the issue of conspiracy and collusion, a lot of which is now public.
But I do think that the president continues to cast doubt on whether he accepts the fundamental conclusion that Russia intervened, whether there was a conspiracy or not. He continues to raise questions about it. Indeed, his attempt to retract his statement in Helsinki that he doesn’t see why the Russians would intervene, that goes well beyond any allegations of conspiracy.
So it’s the president himself who’s created this very muddled message. And the issue, I think, for us in the midterms is, what message is Putin hearing? Is he hearing the message that we heard from Coats and Wray and others in that press conference at the White House, or is hearing the message of the president of the United States?
And I fear that the message that the Kremlin cares most about is what they hear from Donald Trump, and that is still one of denial and cover for the Russians.
Evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt are two different standards, but what Rep. Schiff did was debunk the idea that the Russia probe is an investigation without merit. Since Trump is now openly admitting that the Trump Tower meeting was about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, that is evidence of a criminal conspiracy. A conspiracy doesn’t have to be a success to be a crime.
Adam Schiff was correct. There is evidence publicly available through Trump’s own statements that suggests a criminal conspiracy.
The Russia investigation isn’t a witch hunt or a hoax.
The big unresolved question is whether Mueller has the evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between the Trumps and the Russians beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association