In short, if you block out much of the noise that has surrounded the Russia investigation and focus on certain public information, you can see the outline of a concerted effort to mislead federal officials.
Once the Trump inner circle decided to keep telling the media there had been no campaign contacts with Russians whatsoever, that categorical denial may have been the easiest line to maintain. The effort to mislead the public would then be reinforced by an effort to mislead the federal investigators. That’s an easier step to imagine given Mr. Trump’s deep distrust of the intelligence community and his view of their willingness to leak to the press.
How could campaign officials, or the president himself, expect to get away with any such scheme, especially when encouraging others to commit perjury is a serious federal offense?
Maybe they didn’t anticipate a full investigation.