15 times Dems, Repubs said no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion; 10 times people claimed there was

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  • To date, scandalous accusations of treason against Trump haven’t borne out

  • Incendiary claims unsupported by public evidence after 10 months of probes

The following is a news analysis

Ten months after questions were first raised, there’s no evidence that Donald Trump “colluded” with Russia, according to prominent Democrats and Republicans who have reviewed information or received briefings.

It’s too early to call it a closed case, because various investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign and links to Trump associates continue. That reportedly includes probes by the FBI, Republican-led congressional committees, and the military. The FBI has largely stayed mum on its work. But yesterday, President Trump claimed James Comey, as FBI Director, personally told him he was not under investigation.

It’s significant that no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump has publicly surfaced long after multiple players in politics and media began insisting there was collusion. Among the allegations of treasonous behavior was a “dossier” peddled to the media and published in January. It made lurid claims about Trump ties to Russia, involving bribery and prostitution. But it turns out the dossier wasn’t an intelligence report; it was campaign opposition research compiled by Trump political opponents.

This week, Former Defense Intelligence Agency chief James Clapper told Congress that the sourcing trail of the dossier was so poor, that the entire file was excluded from in an intelligence community assessment in January.

Yet despite the persistent dearth of evidence, there’s been no widespread backtracking by those who have made claims against President Trump to date.

The Flynn Question

Whether President Trump conspired with Russia in some way is separate from questions about some of his associates, including former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Among other matters, Flynn is under fire for:

  • Having discussions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. that he didn’t disclose to President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence (not inherently against the law, but an ethics question and the reason he was let go from the Trump administration, according to experts); and
  • Allegedly failing to seek permission from or disclosing to the U.S. government his $67,000 in payments from Russian organizations (a possible violation of federal law, according to members of Congress).

    Russian Ambassador to U.S. Kiselev

A Flynn spokesman has said he informed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) before and after giving a paid speech in Moscow. DIA spokesman Jim Kudla confirmed that Flynn reported prior to his trip “in accordance with standard security clearance procedures.”

The problem with the media, politicians, commentators and pundits getting ahead of the evidence or contradicting it entirely, is that it erodes trust in the accuracy of information. If and when real evidence emerges, the public may mistrust what they read and hear.

Here are 14 public statements about lack of evidence by those who have reviewed evidence or been briefed, followed by a sampling of 10 claims against Trump. What were the claims based on if there was no evidence yet? (Italics emphasis added)

1. The New York Times
Nov. 1, 2016
According to the newspaper, the FBI says there’s no definitive connection between Donald Trump and the Russian government, reaching that conclusion after a wide-ranging investigation. The Times cited law-enforcement officials who said any cyberattacks carried out were “aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Trump.” The FBI also found no conclusive evidence of deliberate communications between Trump and a Russian bank, that were alleged earlier.

President Trump

2. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin, House Speaker)
Feb. 28, 2017
No one has ever showed us any evidence that any collusion had occurred between an American involved with the political system and the Russians.”

3. James Clapper (Former Obama Director of National Intelligence)
March 5, 2017
“[Regarding] NSA, FBI…CIA…Director of National Intelligence (DNI), that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians, there was no evidence of that included in our [January] report,” Clapper testified. He was asked, “…but does it exist?” He answered, “Not to my knowledge.”

Former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

4. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California, House Intelligence Committee Chairman)
March 20, 2017
During a hearing, Nunes questioned then-FBI Director James Comey:
NUNES: Do you have any evidence that any current Trump White House or administration official coordinated with the Russian intelligence services?
COMEY: Not a question I can answer…
NUNES: Well, I think — I understand that…but I can tell you that we don’t have any evidence and we’re conducting our own investigation here.

Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of House Intelligence Committee

5. James Comey, then-FBI Director
March 20, 2017
Comey was asked if he agreed with former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Clapper who said there was “no evidence” of “collusion between the members of the Trump campaign and the Russians.” Comey replied, “I think he’s right about characterizing the [January] report which you all have read.”

6. Rep. Chris Stewart, (R-Utah, House Intelligence Committee)
March 20, 2017
“At this point, everyone on this dais should agree with Mr. Clapper because we in the committee have seen no evidence, zero, that would indicate that there was collusion or criminal wrongdoing between any members of the previous [sic] administration or campaign and Russian officials.”

The Kremlin in Moscow is the official residence of the Russia’s President.

7. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California, House Intelligence Committee)  
April 2, 2017
When asked, “Can you say definitively that there was collusion, there were people affiliated with the Trump campaign who were working with Russians to time the release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton that had been hacked either from [Hillary campaign chair] John Podesta or the DNC?” Schiff replied, “I don’t think we can say anything definitively at this point.”

8. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California, Senate Intelligence Committee)
May 3, 2017
When asked if she had evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Feinstein replied, “Not at this time.”

9. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia, Senate Intelligence Committee)
May 8, 2017
“People that might have said they were involved, to what extent they were involved, to what extent the president might have known about these people or whatever, there is nothing there from that standpoint that we have seen directly linking our president to any of that.”

10. James Clapper (again)
May 8, 2017
At a hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) asked Clapper if it’s still accurate that he has no knowledge of the existence of evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. Clapper replied, “It is.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Photograph by: Frank Plitt via Wikimedia Commons

11. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California)
May 9, 2017
Rep. Waters has repeatedly stated that President Trump “has colluded with the Russians,” but when asked if she has seen evidence to back up her claims, Waters replied: “No, we have not.”

12. President Donald Trump
May 9, 2017
In a letter of termination to FBI Director Comey, President Trump wrote that Comey had informed him “on three occasions that I am not under investigation.” (This hasn’t been independently confirmed by the FBI or Comey.)

President Donald J. Trump

13. James Clapper (yet again)
May 28, 2017
On NBC, Clapper states that in looking at possible Russian collusion, “my dashboard warning light was clearly on” but “I have to say, at the time I left, I did not see any smoking gun certitude evidence of collusion.”

14: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
June 4, 2017
On CNN, Sen. Warner is asked whether he has seen any evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. He says: “There is a lot of smoke,” but “we have no smoking gun at this point.”

15. Jeh Johnson, Obama Homeland Security Secretary
June 21, 2017
In Congressional testimony, Johnson was asked whether, at the time he left the government in January 2017, he had  “seen any evidence that Donald Trump or any member of his campaign colluded, conspired or coordinated with the Russians or anyone else to infiltrate or impact our voter infrastructure?” He said, “Not beyond what has been out there open-source, and not beyond anything that I’m sure this committee has already seen and heard before, directly from the intelligence community. So anything I’d have on that is derivative of what the intelligence community has — and the law enforcement community.”

A sampling of claims against Trump:

1. Politics USA and Huffington Post writer Sarah Jones
“October Shocker: FBI Has Explosive Information on Trump Conspiring With Putin”
“Senator Harry Reid dropped the bomb that the FBI and national security experts possess “explosive information” about ties and coordination between Russia and Donald Trump and his campaign.”
Oct. 30, 2016


2. Money & Power blog by Keith Girard
“Trump Treason: Did He Collaborate With Russians to Steal Election?”
Dec. 9, 2016

3. Politico story written by Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia Evelyn Farkas
“When it comes to Russia and its relationship with Donald Trump, the election hacking may be only the tip of the iceberg.”
Dec. 12, 2016

4. Was Trump lured into a Russian honey trap?
Jan. 12, 2017


5. New York Times letter to the editor by Michael Morell, former acting head of the CIA
“Does Vladimir Putin ‘own’ Donald Trump?”
“In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
Feb. 10, 2017

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell

6. Tweets by former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler
“He will Die in Jail”: Intelligence Community Ready to “Go Nuclear” on Trump over “The President’s collusion with Russian intelligence.
Feb. 15, 2017

7. Michael Moore Tweet:
“Trump ‘Colluded’ With Russians, Should Step Down”
Feb. 16, 2017

8. Newsweek story by Ryan Goodman
“The Russian plot: how Putin and Trump colluded”
Feb. 17, 2017

9. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
President Donald Trump “absolutely was in collusion with the Kremlin and Putin and Russia during the campaign.”
Feb. 17, 2017

Pre-order “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think and How You Vote,” the sequel to my New York Times best seller “Stonewalled.”

10. Daily Kos article by writer Mark Sumner
“Comey revealed that the FBI had possible evidence of collusion with Russia—then Trump fired him”
May 10, 2017

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29 Responses to “15 times Dems, Repubs said no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion; 10 times people claimed there was”

  1. Starr Gotzen
    May 12, 2017 at 12:06 am #

    Great article, Sharyl!

  2. Paul Sheridan
    May 12, 2017 at 12:11 am #

    Sharply Attkisson. Been through the fire which has made her a highly reliable news source.

  3. Steve in Lewes
    May 12, 2017 at 7:54 am #

    Well it appears that all of the 12 times-No evidence are individuals that would have some basis and background that is very credible;
    However, the 10 times – Yes evidence; well all hacks and fake news sites/pubs that have an axe to grind

  4. Mike
    May 12, 2017 at 9:09 am #

    I’ve been telling people half of those names so its nice to have a full list.
    This whole story is to stop Trumps assault on the establishment AND to cover up US hating obama’s spying
    DRAIN THE SWAMP!

  5. ImaLindaToo
    May 12, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    Fantastic, detailed report Ms. Atkinson. TY for your work.

  6. M. Clark
    May 12, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    You’re going to want to fix that typo referring to Lt. Gen. Flynn as “Lt. Col. Flynn.”

  7. Joan Minor
    May 12, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you, Sharyl. I keep hoping that the truth will prevail. With journalists like you, perhaps we still have hope.

  8. Colt Lending
    May 12, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    In her trade, she is among the greats of all time.

    Today, this woman has no peer.

    She is phenomenal.

  9. Kate Wallace
    May 12, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Thank you for doing the job that members of the MSM have failed to do. The fourth estate has been so compromised by the left that they are unable and/or unwilling to do unbiased reporting that is essential to keeping our country a Constitution Republic.

  10. Calie Stephens
    May 12, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Sharyl is one of only a handful of reporters that have any credibility with me. My perception is that objectivity and honesty are in very short supply in the media. The deterioration is obvious on a daily basis.

  11. Russ Glascock
    May 12, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    Dems (media is 95% dem) say that timing of the firing of Comey is the issue. They can blame themselves for slow walking Pres. Trump getting his cabinet in place. The AG (had to recuse), so Deputy AG came in (just last week of April) and found Comey to not be up to the job. Dem congress critters should blame themselves for the timing of the firing. Draining the swamp will take time.

  12. Lou Mendez
    May 12, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    Why do the ‘PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST LEFTISTS'(democRATS) believe an investigation into alleged Russian/Trump collusion will stop with the firing of Jim Comey??
    Comey wasn’t sitting all by himself at his desk in some dark corner in his under-wares reading all the un-masked surveillance and emails and stuff in this investigation…there were lower-positioned agents actually doing the heavy work, nd will continue doing so.

  13. Paul
    May 13, 2017 at 2:14 am #

    So, after all the time and money is wasted on trying to impugn and impeach President Trump, do you think attention will turn to who raised the bogus issue in the first place? Do you think there will be any adverse consequences for the authors of the mendacious “Russian interference” narrative ( Podesta & Mook). If their narrative proves unfounded and unsupported, they should bear all the penalties reserved for someone who maliciously yells “FIRE” in a crowded theater.

  14. Dave
    May 13, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Another solid piece, Sharyl Attkisson, like the Hillary timeline. Allows folks to read the a wide swath of the statements, one side and the other, and draw their own conclusions. Its frightening, the level of manipulation going on here from one side of the spectrum and their acolytes running most of the newsrooms. I’m particularly drawn to the calls for a ‘special’ prosecutor. Considering we’re dealing with a counter-intelligence effort, not a criminal probe, just how would that possibly work? The FBI is America’s bastion for counter-intelligence efforts; no outside prosecutor could possibly take on such a task. The narrative presented by one side is so blatantly dishonest and manipulative, it makes me mildly nauseous. However, the honest light of day you shed on these facts, and disturbing attempts to ignore, re-write, and manipulate those facts, is, as always, purely professional, coherently presented, and truthful. Thanks, Sharyl, for all you do.

  15. J M Smith
    May 14, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    Finally. A real news story with real sources.

    There are way too many proported “news” stories with un-named sources, or anonymous sources, or other unidentified sources that tend to be nothing but unsubstantiated opinion pieces that are worth nothing. Sharyl’s point is well taken that these non-story stories are contributing to the public not believing the media anymore, and when or if the media does report something truthfully, it has a high probability of not being regarded as such.

  16. Rusty
    May 15, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    Clapper was Director of National Intelligence. LTG Flynn was Director, Defense Intelligence Agency.

    • Rusty
      May 15, 2017 at 10:09 am #

      Earlier in his career Clapper was Director, Defense Intelligence Agency.

  17. Agathon
    June 4, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    New headline:
    Evidence that Hillary & Podesta colluded to fabricate Russia connections after engineering the murder of DNC leaker Seth Rich. “Never let a perfectly good crisis go to waste.”

  18. Matt
    June 5, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    Media has gone all in on this fairy tale and really need it to be true. Imagine the arsenal of old news clips the right has put together just waiting for the moment this story is proven false.

  19. Bruce Martin
    June 11, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    We really appreciate your revealing news reports.

    The Seth Rich episode screams out for a revelation. Obviously not the robbery, as attributed.

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