Big if true, but how likely is it that it’s true? This is the same guy who tweeted yesterday that Russia “hacked our election,” an intentionally misleading Democratic talking point designed to suggest that Russia changed the vote totals on election night. They didn’t, of course, as Barack Obama himself acknowledged. This also isn’t the first time we’ve heard a top Democrat claim evidence of collusion between Trumpers and the Russians — but the last time it happened, Sen. Chris Coons had to backtrack and explain that he had misspoken. There was no conclusive proof, he later admitted. How soon before Schiff has to backtrack too?
On top of all that, it’s awfully convenient timing that Schiff, a Democrat, would drop this bombshell damaging Trump so soon after Devin Nunes, his Republican counterpart on the House Intel Committee, dropped a bombshell of his own that supported some of Trump’s claims about surveillance and leaks (well, sort of). That reeks of Schiff wanting to step on the GOP’s “Nunes says Trump team was incidentally surveilled!” headlines with an even sexier headline of his own. Although there’s an alternate theory among left-wingers:
this makes me wonder if nunes is blowing it up on purpose now that there apparently is proof of a there there https://t.co/hsLqAWWZnN
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) March 22, 2017
If what Schiff says is true and Nunes knows it, then the Machiavellian move for Nunes would be to manufacture a more Republican-friendly storyline preemptively so that Schiff’s revelation has to battle for coverage. Hence today’s decision to reveal the news on incidental surveillance without first sharing it with his own committee and then running to the White House to brief Trump ASAP. After watching that and the contentious back and forth between Nunes and Schiff, John McCain is now calling for a select committee to wrest control of the Russia investigation from the House Intel Committee’s hands. Joe Scarborough, meanwhile, wants Nunes removed as House Intel chairman. I wonder if Nunes’s disclosures today won’t end up backfiring on him.
Exit question: What possible “more than circumstantial” evidence of collusion might Schiff have seen? The only thing that pops to mind are those reports of Roger Stone having been in touch with Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0. That represents direct contact between a Trump associate and outlets that were involved in some of the hackings last year during the campaign, but direct evidence of collusion/coordination requires more than mere contact. Does Schiff know something about the nature of Stone’s communications with those outlets? Or is he not talking about Stone at all but rather referring to some different sort of evidence? Hmmmm.