Democrats seem to be moving the goalposts on the collusion story a bit and Politico has a story today noting the shift:
Hillary Clinton, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have all stoked speculation that American insiders may have helped the Russians orchestrate their wide-ranging hacking and disinformation campaign — including with guidance on which political targets to exploit and what kinds of leaked information would most resonate with swing voters. The Democrats got backup from former FBI Director James Comey, who told lawmakers in June he was sure law enforcement would work to determine “if any Americans were part of helping the Russians.”
But so far, no public evidence has surfaced that any Americans coordinated with Moscow’s digital army in selecting targets for hacking, strategically deploying the purloined documents for maximum political impact — a point echoed by research firms investigating the election-year hacks…
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Democrats might be groping in the dark with their “insider” theory. “Maybe they’re trying to pin the tail on some donkey here,” he said.
As usual, there is no evidence leading anyone to this conclusion, at least none that anyone can discuss in public. So how is this any different from the collusion story Democrats have been promoting for months? As far as I can tell the difference is that this version is less specific, i.e. it doesn’t say the collusion was with Trump or his people.
So there are two ways to look at this. One is that the Democratic leadership, especially those close to Hillary Clinton, are still angry and are still looking for a magic bullet to explain their 2016 loss. Since the claim that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia doesn’t seem to be working out as planned, they are now moving the goalposts, i.e. maybe it wasn’t Trump or his people but someone in America was colluding with Russia to make this happen.
The other way to look at this is that Dem leadership wouldn’t be going out on a limb with this (again!) unless they had heard something that made them believe it would pay off. Maybe, behind the scenes where Dem investigators are leaking classified information to within Clintonworld, they see a light at the end of this tunnel. They can’t be more specific yet because that would mean revealing where they got the information, but they think something is coming to, at least partly, backstop their months of unsupported collusion claims.
As added support for this second option, remember that Democrats keep losing special elections. The loss in Georgia even led to some soul searching about the need to keep this issue front and center. Would Dems be pushing Collusion Mark 2 if they still had nothing? It seems like a crazy thing to do.
But there are at least two good reasons not to go with option #2. First, Democrats have been talking about this for months and have nothing to show for it. So their track record on this issue is pretty poor. Second, if Democrats really had something here, wouldn’t Chairman Burr also be aware of it? Assuming he knows whatever Democrats know, he doesn’t sound like someone preparing for bad news. Instead, he seems to be suggesting that, once again, Democrats are theorizing without any facts.
Ultimately, there either is some there there or not. Maybe the Democrats will come up with something, but generally speaking, the sound of someone moving the goalposts is not proof they have a strong case.