No Proof of Collusion? Are You Kidding Me?

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It is the consensus of the U.S. intelligence agencies and the Republican majority Senate Intelligence Committee that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections to assist Donald Trump.

“The investigation established multiple links [to] Trump Campaign officials,” including “Russian offers of assistance to the Campaign. In some instances, the Campaign was receptive to the offer, while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away.” — Mueller report, p. 173

SCHIFF: During the course of this Russian interference in the election, the Russians made outreach to the Trump campaign, did they not?
MUELLER: That occurred. […]
SCHIFF: The campaign welcomed the Russian help, did they not?
MUELLER: We report indications that that occurred, yes. [….]
SCHIFF: The president himself called on the Russians to hack Hillary’s emails?
MUELLER: There was a statement by the president on those general lines.
SCHIFF: Numerous times during the campaign the president praised the releases of the Russian-hacked emails through Wikileaks?
MUELLER: That did occur. […]
SCHIFF: Apart from the Russians trying to help Trump win … Donald Trump was trying to make millions from a real estate deal in Moscow?
MUELLER: You’re talking about the hotel in Moscow? Yes.
SCHIFF: When your investigation looked into these matters, numerous Trump associates lied to your team, the grand jury, and to Congress?
MUELLER: A number of people we interviewed in our investigation, it turns out did lie. […]
SCHIFF: When the president said the Russian interference was a “hoax,” that was false, wasn’t it?
MUELLER: True. […]
SCHIFF: In short, your investigation found evidence that Russia wanted to help Trump win the election, right?
MUELLER: That would be accurate. […]
SCHIFF: Russia committed federal crimes in order to help Donald Trump?
MUELLER: You’re talking about the computer crimes charged in our case? Absolutely.
SCHIFF: Trump campaign officials built their messaging strategy around those stolen documents?
MUELLER: Generally that’s true.
SCHIFF: And then they lied to cover it up?
MUELLER: Generally that’s true.

SCHIFF: Trump and his campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian interference?
MUELLER: Yes.
SCHIFF: And then Trump and his campaign lied about it to cover it up?
MUELLER: Yes.

Further along, this exchange occurred:

SCHIFF: I gather you believe knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.
MUELLER: And a crime in given circumstances.
SCHIFF: …also unpatriotic.
MUELLER: True.

NADLER: The president repeatedly claimed your report found no obstruction and that it totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it? MUELLER: Correct. That is not what the report said. […] NADLER: Did you totally exonerate the president? MUELLER: No.

FEINSTEIN: Did you find any evidence that President Obama or anyone else in the White House asked the U.S. government to investigate then-candidate Trump or his campaign?
HOROWITZ: We certainly didn’t see any evidence of that in the FBI’s files or the Department’s files.

BLUMENTHAL: Did you find any evidence that the FBI tapped the phones are Trump Tower?
HOROWITZ: No.

FEINSTEIN: You found no evidence that the decision to use confidential human sources was motivated by political bias, is that correct?
HOROWITZ: Correct.

Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz testified in 2019 before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele did not prompt the original DOJ investigation into members of the Trump campaign.

Horowitz found no basis for GOP claims. “We found no evidence that the FBI used [informants] or [undercover agents] to interact with members of the Trump campaign prior to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” he wrote. “After the opening of the investigation, we found no evidence that the FBI placed any [informants or undercover agents] within the Trump campaign or tasked any [informants or undercover agents] to report on the Trump campaign. Finally, we also found no documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivations influenced the FBI’s decision to use [informants or undercover agents] to interact with Trump campaign officials in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” That just about covers all the bases.

Horowitz found that FBI investigators did “not become aware of Steele’s election reporting until weeks later,” and that it therefore “played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening.”

“We concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, [Carter] Page, [Michael] Flynn, and [Paul] Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Department and the FBI,” he wrote.

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations,” he wrote. Horowitz also said he found no evidence of “political bias or improper motivation [that] influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page,”

“Did your investigation identify any evidence President Obama ordered the FBI to tap Donald Trump’s phone?” asked Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), after citing Trump’s tweets from 2017.

“We didn’t find any evidence the FBI had tapped any other phones or anything else other than the FISA that we addressed,” Horowitz responded, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Page.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CONN.): Did you find any evidence that the FBI tapped the phones at Trump Tower?

HOROWITZ: No. The only surveillance we found is what’s laid out here.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER A. COONS (D-DEL.): Did your investigation identify any evidence President Obama ordered the FBI to tap Donald Trump’s phone?

HOROWITZ: We didn’t find any evidence the FBI had tapped any other phones other than the FISA we addressed.

This is the GOP conspiracy theory on how Ukraine allegedly interfered in the 2016 elections: Hillary Clinton contracted with Ukrainian agents to pretend to be Russian hackers; these fake Russians then pretended to break into DNC servers and steal materials; CrowdStrike was called to cover the tracks of the Ukrainians; and the whole server was whisked away to make sure no one ever detected the scheme.

Does that make any sense?

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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