Democrats on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have admitted they have uncovered no direct evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russian officials. The revelation, first reported by NBC News, will give the president and his supporters renewed vigor in the now two-year-old battle over the legitimacy of the Russian collusion story.
The committee’s investigation, which encompassed 200 interviews and examination of some 300,000 documents, is likely nearing its end, suggested Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) in a recent interview with CBS. He said the committee was “getting to the bottom of the barrel,” as it is no longer pursuing answers to any outstanding questions.
…Special Counsel Robert Mueller is close to concluding his investigation.
Burr also said the committee does not “have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” Democrats on the committee do not disagree with Burr’s assertion, though they still cite the number of contacts between Russians and several individuals associated with the president as at least circumstantial evidence of a pattern of cooperation.
Democrats Have Nothing But Speculation
One Democratic investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Donald Trump Jr. made clear in his messages that he was willing to accept help from the Russians. Trump publicly urged the Russians to find Clinton’s missing emails.”
To put those remarks in context, remember that the “help” Trump Jr. had allegedly been willing to accept from the Russians took the form of compromising information about Hillary Clinton, though whatever information the president’s son may have hoped to obtain was never produced.
The Clinton campaign is known to have paid for compromising information about Trump – information that was provided by Russian officials but never corroborated. It was this opposition research, obtained by the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS, that formed the basis for the Trump-Russia collusion narrative and was used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
As for President Trump “urging” the Russians to find his opponent’s missing emails, that hardly rises to the level of “collusion” – whatever that word is even supposed to signify in this regard. Trump’s offhand comment likely was inspired by the high probability, at the time, that the Russians had already obtained copies of Clinton’s emails that, as secretary of state, she had stored on a private server.
NBC News also reports that Justice Department officials and congressional investigators believe Special Counsel Robert Mueller is close to concluding his investigation.
The quest to uncover some form of nefarious activity that would explain Trump’s 2016 election victory is far from over, though. Now in control of House committees, Democrats have launched investigations into the Trump family’s business dealings, going way beyond the 2016 campaign. In an interview with Fox New’s Laura Ingraham before his recent El Paso rally, the president said the White House had received more than 70 letters from House Democrats, seeking information. Rather than investigating any potential crimes, the president’s opponents are now determined to look under every rock until they find something they can present as evidence of a crime.