Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Ben Kamisar
WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election said Sunday that lawmakers have found “enormous evidence” of possible collusion between President Trump’s orbit and Russians during that election.
Appearing on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., disagreed with the assertion by his Republican counterpart on the committee that congressional investigators have found nothing “that would suggest there was collusion.”
But Warner made it clear that he’s seriously concerned about a possible link between the Russians and Trump’s allies and campaign apparatus.
“I’m going to reserve judgment until I’m finished, but there’s no one who can factually say there isn’t plenty of evidence of collaboration or communication between the Trump Organization and Russians,” Warner said.
“I have never in my lifetime seen a presidential campaign, from a person of either party, have this much outreach to a foreign country and a foreign country that the intelligence community [says], and our committee has validated, intervened massively in our election and intervened with an attempt to help one candidate, Donald Trump, and hurt another, Hillary Clinton.”
Warner pointed to congressional testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, both in public and behind closed doors, as more cause for concern.
The Virginia Democrat said there are still at least three matters in the “public domain” that need to be investigated further: How far into the 2016 campaign the Trump Organization pushed to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, whether Trump knew in advance that WikiLeaks was going to release hacked Democratic emails and whether the president knew about the infamous “Trump Tower” meeting between top campaign hands and Russians that Donald Trump Jr. took in the hopes of getting “dirt” on Clinton.
Cohen alleged during his public testimony that Trump had advanced warnings of both the “Trump Tower” meeting and the WikiLeaks release, something that has not been corroborated by public evidence.
Warner said that he won’t take Cohen at face value — as he’s headed to prison later this year after pleading guilty to lying to Congress — but that “Donald Trump doesn’t exactly have a great record of telling the truth as well.”
But to Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Cohen’s allegations are a distraction from a convicted liar with “zero credibility.”
“There is not one bit of evidence to show any type of coordination, collusion, conspiracy whatsoever between the Trump campaign and Russia to impact the election,” Jordan said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”
“I don’t think the president has lied about Russia at all.”
Instead, Jordan argued that the real scandal is in how the Justice Department and the special counsel decided to open investigations in the first place, accusing the Justice Department of being a political weapon.
“The president surrounds himself with some people that maybe he shouldn’t have, I don’t know,” he said.
“What I’m most concerned about is what took place at the highest levels of our [government]. Our committee is supposed to be the government oversight committee, we are supposed to look at abuses. When government agencies do the kind things that I think they did at the top levels of the FBI, that’s what we are supposed to be focused on.”