Key Dem points to evidence of collusion between Russia, Team Trump

Updated
Russia’s intervention in last year’s presidential campaign is no longer in doubt. What’s unclear is whether Vladimir Putin’s government received cooperation from Republican campaign officials who were eager to help their allies in Moscow.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/22/17, 9:00 PM ET

Rep Schiff: Trump Russia case now 'more than circumstantial'

Rachel Maddow reports on developments in the investigation into coordination between the Donald Trump campaign in Russia, from a new report on Paul Manafort acting in Russia’s interest to a new characterization of the evidence by ranking House…
Rachel Maddow reports on developments in the investigation into coordination between the Donald Trump campaign in Russia, from a new report on Paul Manafort acting in Russia’s interest to a new characterization of the evidence by ranking House…
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who’s helping lead a congressional investigation into the Russia scandal, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend, and raised a few eyebrows with vague references to circumstantial evidence.

“There is circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said, referring to alleged cooperation between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. “There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that’s where we begin the investigation…. There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation. The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more.”

Schiff made related comments to Rachel a day later.

But on MSNBC yesterday afternoon, the California Democrat again talked to Chuck Todd, and this time he took another step forward when describing the nature of the evidence.
TODD: But you admit, all you have right now is a circumstantial case?

SCHIFF: Actually, no, Chuck. I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. So, again, I think -

TODD: You have seen direct evidence of collusion?

SCHIFF: I don’t to want go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and it very much worthy of investigation. So, that is what we ought to do.
When we contacted the congressman’s office, asking if Schiff may have misspoken, and giving him a chance to walk this back, his office said Schiff meant what he said.

In other words, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee was circumspect on Sunday and Monday, pointing to circumstantial evidence, but as of yesterday, Schiff appears to have learned more.

Remember, there’s more than one angle to the Russia scandal. The idea that a foreign adversary attacked our democracy, stole materials, and launched an illegal espionage operation to help put Trump in the White House is, by any fair measure, one of the most important political scandals in modern American history. What’s more, no one seriously denies that this is precisely what happened.

But the collusion question is something even more serious. If Trump’s campaign and its associates cooperated with a foreign government’s effort to attack an American election, it’s an order of magnitude more serious. Russia’s intervention raises credible questions about the legitimacy of the Trump presidency, but allegations about cooperation between Team Trump and Moscow create an existential threat to the Trump presidency.