The Slatest

Schiff: There Is “Direct Evidence” of Trump Collusion With Russia

Adam Schiff speaks at a microphone.
Adam Schiff speaks to the media after a closed-door House Intelligence Committee hearing where Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, testified on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said that as far as he’s concerned there’s “direct evidence” of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. Specifically, Schiff says that the 2016 offer from a Russian lawyer for information on Hillary Clinton to members of Trump’s campaign is the smoking gun. “I think there is direct evidence in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump,” Schiff said on CBS’ Face the Nation, when he was asked if he had “direct evidence of collusion with Russia.”

“They offer that dirt,” Schiff went on. “There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts in furtherance of that.” Beyond that, though, “there’s also abundant circumstantial evidence,” Schiff added. “There is, for example, evidence of Manafort sharing internal polling data with someone linked to the Russian intelligence services.”

Despite this “direct” and “circumstantial” evidence, Schiff also made sure to emphasize that it doesn’t all add up automatically to impeachment. “While there is abundant evidence of collusion, the issue from a criminal point of view is whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy,” Schiff said. “And that is something that we will have to await Bob Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence to determine.”

Schiff wasn’t alone in talking about evidence that incriminates Trump in terms of Russia contacts. Sen. Mark Warner, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said there is “enormous evidence” of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the election. “I’m going to reserve judgment until I’m finished, but there’s no one who can factually say there isn’t plenty of evidence of collaboration or communication between the Trump organization and Russians,” Warner told NBC’s Meet the Press. “I have never in my lifetime seen a presidential campaign, from a person of either party, have this much outreach to a foreign country and a foreign country that the intelligence community [says], and our committee has validated, intervened massively in our election and intervened with an attempt to help one candidate, Donald Trump, and hurt another, Hillary Clinton.”