WASHINGTON — Months after ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said that “circumstantial evidence” of collusion influencing the 2016 election existed between Trump campaign associates and Moscow, he and other Democrats on the committee are silent about it or struggle to explain the supposed collusion.
Schiff made his remark on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when confronted with the fact that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, rejected the idea that any evidence of such collusion happened while he led the U.S. intelligence agencies.
Schiff said at the time: “I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don’t think you can make that claim categorically as he did. I would characterize it this way at the outset of the investigation: There is circumstantial evidence of collusion. There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that’s where we begin the investigation.”
He later said, “There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation. The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more.”
The Daily Caller asked Schiff about his claims of the existence of “circumstantial evidence” last Thursday, the same day The New York Times put out a correction that all 17 intelligence agencies did not approve the assessment that Russia “orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election.” (RELATED: Associated Press Corrects Big Falsehood In Four Trump-Russia Reports)
“I really don’t have time,” Schiff responded. TheDC pressed further and asked if Schiff had any evidence at all of collusion and the California Democrat did not respond at all.
Fellow committee member Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, told TheDC that it is too early to conclude anything when TheDC asked about Schiff’s previous claims of “circumstantial evidence.”
“We’re not in a position yet to suggest anything, because we’re just in the beginning stages of this investigation. We just interviewed a handful of people so far,” she added. “Until we have a comprehensive look at all of the witnesses, we can’t make assessments on what we’re identifying.”
California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, another member of the committee, described to TheDC what he thought of as evidence in the investigation.
“Evidence to me is witness accounts and documents, it’s not a conclusion. It’s something that’s to be tested and developed — ruled in and ruled out, and then you make a conclusion. So, the fact that the FBI has an investigation means that there was evidence. They don’t just launch investigations without evidence and neither have we.”
He added, “But the reason we are pursuing these witnesses and documents is because there is evidence that has to be tested and developed. But evidence is not a conclusion. It’s too early to make a judgment about what a conclusion is.”
TheDC asked Reps. Speier and Swalwell if they know a crime was committed and, if so, what exactly it was.
“Well, we’re trying to determine whether they were engaged with the Russians and tried to influence the election. We’re not looking at crimes. We don’t have the authority to look at crimes. That’s what the FBI does.”
Swalwell replied, “A crime was committed. A crime was absolutely committed. The hacking of emails is a crime.”
Is the committee investigating the administration from a presumption of guilt as opposed to innocence?
“We’re looking at it from an intelligence perspective,” said Speier.
Swalwell, responded, “No, absolutely not. It’s not fair to him or the country to do that now.”