On Thursday, Reuters reported that the Trump campaign had various contacts with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential race. Their story leads with the shocking details:
Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters. The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
There’s only one little problem. Buried in Paragraph 6 is this mildly important tidbit: “The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far.”
Shouldn’t that be the headline?
Here’s what’s really going on amid all the hubbub: nobody can seem to find any hard evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. The left and the media don’t want to let it go, because they know three facts: first, the Russian government attempted to interfere with the election, and was a sponsor state behind Wikileaks; second, Trump showed a bizarre affection for Russia and an open love for Wikileaks throughout the 2016 campaign; Hillary Clinton definitely shouldn’t have lost the election. To connect these three facts, they have spun a web of conspiracy: Paul Manafort, Trump’s Russian-connected campaign manager, must have been working with the Russians in order to skew the election (no evidence presented); Mike Flynn, Trump’s Russian-connected short-lived National Security Advisor, must have been colluding with the Russians to skew the election (no evidence presented); Carter Page, Trump’s short-lived foreign policy advisor, must have been participating in a conspiracy with the Russians to get Trump elected (no evidence presented); Trump must have known or approved of something (no evidence presented).
Here’s the problem: no evidence presented.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who has “IMPEACH TRUMP” stitched on a throw pillow she leaves beside her shrine to the Los Angeles Uprising, admits there is no evidence. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who hates Trump, admits there is no evidence.
As Jim Geraghty writes at National Review:
If there was something sinister and illegal going on between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the U.S. government as a whole had every incentive in the world to expose that as quickly as possible. They didn’t expose it before Election Day, they didn’t expose it before the Electoral College voted, they didn’t expose it before Inauguration Day… How many months have the best investigators in the United States been digging into this?
This, in all likelihood, is Trump’s frustration. Instead of reacting to the insanity of the Democrats with placidity, Trump has fallen back on knee-jerk emotionalism: he’s lashing out at everyone who won’t just state the obvious, that there’s no evidence of any Trump-Russia collusion. That’s likely why he fired FBI Director James Comey: because he was frustrated that Comey wouldn’t say it. That’s likely why he implied he’d like Comey to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn: because he feels like Flynn didn’t do anything, and nobody could show him evidence otherwise. Because of that emotionalism, however, Trump has made it look like he has something to hide, rather than the probable truth: that he doesn’t have anything to hide, and he’s annoyed that everybody keeps saying he has something to hide.
So here we are: Democrats are latching onto the smoke Trump created because he couldn’t stand that people simply wouldn’t recognize there was no fire. But we should always return to the simple, bottom-line fact: there’s still no fire.