"There is circumstantial evidence of collusion" between associates of Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian operatives while Moscow tried to meddle with the election, as well as “direct evidence” of deception, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member on the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s "Meet The Press" on Sunday.
The congressman made the claim despite denials by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama, that any evidence of such collusion exists.
"I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that because I don't think you can make that claim categorically as he did," Schiff 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."
However, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, told Fox News Sunday that he has not seen any evidence of collusion between Russians and Trump associates.
It is not only the Republican Nunes who says there is no evidence of such collusion.
There is a concerted effort by key Democratic officials to tamper down expectations among the party’s base that the investigation will reveal any evidence of collusion since a number of unsubstantiated reports, based on partisan delusions and not on facts, has led many Democratic supporters to believe in the Trump/Russia connections, Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept.
Thee House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on attempts by Russia to meddle in the election on Monday, and Schiff pointed out on “Meet The Press” that the overall issue is of vital importance.
"I think people need to understand we are in a global war of ideas," Schiff said. "It's not communism versus capitalism but it is authoritarianism versus democracy and Putin is very much at the vanguard of that autocratic movement, and that ought to concern all of us."
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