Revelation after revelation makes a mockery out of the "no collusion" claim.
Trump personally thanked Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning for having announced it was abruptly bringing to a close its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. But new reports have already raise doubts about the GOP conclusion.
Predictably, after running a sham investigation, Republicans claimed there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. In doing so, they dismissed the U.S. intelligence community’s high confidence assessment of Russian interference.
They also ignored the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has overseen the indictment of 19 people to date, including four members of the Trump campaign.
Tuesday's thank-you from Trump came after he slipped into all-caps mode Monday night to loudly trumpet the cover-up conclusion:
THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Yet, in less than 24 hours after the GOP officially circled its wagons around the beleaguered White House, more damning Russia headlines continued to tumble out. And they seem to make a mockery of the Republicans' see-no-evil findings.
First, former Trump adviser Roger Stone in 2016 claimed he "learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that his organization had obtained emails that would torment senior Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton," the Washington Post now reports.
This comes on the heels of reports that Mueller's team is focusing on when Trump knew about the hacked Democratic emails, which were obtained by Russian operatives, and if Trump and his team helped disseminate them during the campaign.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russians were behind the cyber heist of the Democratic emails in 2016. Russians are also suspected of delivering the emails to Wikileaks, the Trump-loving site that created political havoc for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
If a Trump adviser was working as a middle man between the campaign and Wikileaks, that would be extremely damaging for the White House as it tries to push its "no collusion" narrative.
Meanwhile, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, told federal investigators that before the election Trump had encouraged him to pursue a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new book, "Russian Roulette."
"Papadopoulos told Mueller’s investigators that Trump encouraged him, saying he found the idea “interesting,” according to the book, which cites sources familiar with his questioning by Mueller’s investigators," Yahoo News reports.
Last fall, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians and became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s probe.
In terms of collusion, we already know that a publicist with Russian ties, in an email to the Trump team in 2016, offered up damaging information about Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
And we know Donald Trump Jr. responded with "if it’s what you say I love it," and then included the campaign chairman and Trump’s son-in-law in the meeting to hear about the Clinton dirt and about Russian sanctions.
When the meeting was disclosed in 2017, Trump Sr. helped concoct a phony cover story that the meeting had been about Russian adoption policy.
Republicans on the House Intelligence committee acknowledge the Trump Tower meeting, but wave it off as "ill-advised" and unimportant.
Mueller may disagree.