After having taken their first Trump administration scalp — reportedly with the help of "Obama loyalists" within the intelligence community — an emboldened establishment media is rabid for more Trump blood. In a lengthy hit piece published Tuesday scandalously titled "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," the New York Times cites more leaked intelligence information targeting Team Trump that shows "repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials" in the year before the election. The implied allegation is obvious: Trump colluded with the Russians to take down Clinton and thus steal the presidency.
There's only one problem: by the third paragraph of the 1300-word article, the Times admits that its sources "said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation." In other words, the Grey Lady acknowledges that there's "no evidence" for any collusion with the Russians regarding the election, the essential premise of the piece. Later in the article, the team of writers acknowledge that the contact that did allegedly take place between Trump's associates and Russian intelligence was quite possibly done so "unwittingly."
Here are the first three paragraphs of the fake news piece:
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.
The Times explains that despite finding "no evidence of such cooperation" with the Russians, "the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies," in part because of how glowingly Trump spoke of Vladimir Putin.
The Times incidentally highlights that its sources have illegally leaked the information about the phone records of private U.S. citizens to them despite a classified ongoing investigation, writing, " All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified."
Those sources leaking the information to the Times despite its classified nature told the paper that they were not just looking at the private records of the Trump campaign officials, but also "other associates of Mr. Trump." One specific name given was Paul Manafort. The leakers would not reveal any of the other private citizens whose records are being reviewed.
The Times reached out to Manafort, who scoffed at the "absurd" claims the paper was enthusiastically publishing.
"This is absurd," Manafort told the Times. "I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today."
He added, "It’s not like these people wear badges that say, 'I'm a Russian intelligence officer.'"
The Times then acknowledges that Manafort's statement is true:
Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia. And it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.
As for more of the details of the faux scandal, well there aren't any. The Times admits that its unnamed sources "would not disclose many details" other than naming Manafort. Whether or not any of the contacts had anything to do with Trump at all, the paper states, is "unclear"...
The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.