What do we know about the allegation at the heart of this matter: Did Trump, his campaign aides, or his associates collude with Russians to influence the 2016 campaign?

The answer is, we know nothing. After all the investigating, after all the talk, after all the yelling — the public knows nothing. There may be people at the highest levels of U.S. government secrecy who know the answer, but even that is not clear at the moment.

The most definitive statement of the current situation came Sunday on NBCs “Meet the Press.” James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted that he does not know of any evidence that proves collusion, or even points toward collusion.

Remember that Clapper was head of national intelligence until Jan. 20. There have been reports the Trump Russia hacking investigation was going on last summer, that it accelerated in the fall, and that it has been moving along ever since. So Clapper was there for most of the investigation. And he says he knows of no evidence of collusion.

Other government officials who know less than Clapper — but who should still know something — are in the dark. Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “We still have not seen any evidence of anyone that’s from the Trump campaign or any other campaign, for that matter, that’s communicated with the Russian government.”

Pressed about alleged contacts, Nunes said, “That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I don’t have that. And what I’ve been told, by many — by many folks, is that there’s nothing there.”

A few days later, Rep. Adam Schiff, Nunes’ colleague and the top Democrat on the Intel Committee, expressed frustration with the FBI for not sharing information on the investigation. “I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.”

Nunes appears to believe that is because there isn’t any such evidence. Schiff appears to believe that is because the FBI has been hiding the evidence.

The situation seems no better in the Senate, where the biggest recent controversy has been over Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr acting at the behest of the White House to tell reporters there’s nothing there on the collusion angle.

What all that suggests is that there is an information vacuum at the core of the Russia election controversy. Everybody is talking about things they don’t even know happened.

The vacuum has not stopped President Trump’s accusers, who are suggesting there is incriminating evidence of collusion the public has not seen.

The problem is that his belief might not be based in fact.

There are mounting demands for a special prosecutor, or a “9/11-style commission” to investigate an alleged event — TrumpWorld-Russia collusion — that even the nation’s top investigators, after months of investigation, don’t know actually happened.

To be clear, it’s possible that incontrovertible evidence of collusion exists somewhere in the government’s classified investigation machine. It might be that the FBI director, or some other official, will soon release information to settle the question once and for all. But right now, even as there are calls to escalate the investigation, some very knowledgeable people are beginning to admit they know of nothing there.

Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

(29) comments

Carlos Ponce

"Did Trump, his campaign aides, or his associates collude with Russians to influence the 2016 campaign?"
The answer is after intensive scrutiny the conclusion was NO COLLUSION.
" 'There was no evidence whatsoever, at the time, of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,' Clapper, a retired three-star general and career intelligence officer, told ABC News' Brian Ross in an interview Monday for 'World News Tonight.' " James Clapper was the Former Director of National Intelligence during the Obama administration.
http://abcnews.go.com/amp/Politics/top-spy-chief-evidence-trump-campaign-aides-recruited/story?id=46013305
“We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, ‘our,’ that's N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, 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 report.”
James Clapper on Meet the Press
Yet Byron York concludes "the public knows nothing"????????
"It might be that the FBI director, or some other official, will soon release information to settle the question once and for all."
Proving that something never happened......... The anti-Trumps will never accept that. You still hear and read their hateful rhetoric in the media despite what Obama's own National Intelligence Director says. There's an old saying: "You can't fix stupid." It seems to apply.

Paula Flinn

Be patient. Watergate took over 2 years. It is too early to know.

Carlos Ponce

Obama's people who conducted the surveillance say there is nothing there.
Trumps people say there is nothing there except for Federal tapping into his servers.
In 2018, Democrats will not claim "possible" corruption but actual corruption in the mid-terms.
Two years from now, there will still be nothing there except that Obama's Justice Department authorized surveillance of a presidential candidate's computers.

Jim Forsythe

I guess it did not happen!
"The White House on Monday walked back key point of President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated allegation that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 election."
it ,
Show us the facts! If you are going to say it happen , have the facts . If no  question about it, then press charges Is it fact, or just Obama did it.
"I think there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election," Spicer said. "The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities."


Wiretapping is a narrowly defined surveillance activity that involves tapping into "a telephone or telegram wire in order to get information," according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Spicer also said that Trump was referring to the Obama administration broadly -- and not accusing Obama of personal involvement -- when he tweeted that "Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower" and accused Obama of being a "bad" or "sick guy.".

Carlos Ponce

The current belief is that the wiretapping was ordered by the Justice Department. The FISA Court request was known by President Obama. He did not order it as originally stated but was notified of the request. If that's walking it back then so be it. Just like Richard Nixon did not request the Watergate break in.

George Croix

Good point, PF.
It's been over 4 years since "Tell Vladimir I'll have more flexibility after my election" and we till don't know what Obama Admin. collusion, if any, that precipitated.....

Jim Forsythe

The truth will surface , sooner or latter.
If you believe the president, can you also believe Donald Trump Jr. If they are both telling the truth, than Sr. did not know what was going  in his business. Do you think this is how he ran his business, hands off?
DonaldTrump  
"I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy !
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!" his best Sergeant Schultz impression "I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!"
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
,Trump Jr. noted that he traveled to Russia six times in 18 months, and “several buyers have been attracted to our projects there and everything associated therewith.” But he added: “As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world…. It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who…. It really is a scary place.”

Just happen to be in the same place ,same time?
For the first time, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev confirmed his plane and President Donald Trump’s jet shared the tarmac in Charlotte five days before the general election, saying he was in North Carolina for a business reason.
In addition, Rybolovlev through a spokesman reiterated he has never met the Republican billionaire despite buying the Maison de L’Amitié Palm Beach mansion from him nine years ago.
Bumped into you again?
“Even Trump’s plane is not that nice,” Mike Dockery, president of Concord Air Center, told McClatchy. “It looks like a sheik’s airplane.” Dockery said the plane did take on fuel and his son saw a man leave on a golf cart from the oligarch’s plane during its stay.
Anna-Catherine Sendikoski was at the airport when she saw Rybolovlev’s blue-and-grey plane arrive, followed 20-minutes later by Trump’s easily recognizable aircraft. “It was just suspect to me,” Sendikoski told McClatchy.“It just seemed strange.”
Same Bat plane , same Bat channel?
The plane, according to FAA records, also was in Las Vegas on Oct. 30 when Trump appeared at a nearby campaign rally.
Another juxtaposition of Trump and Rybolovlev occurred just last month when the oligarch’s plane landed at Miami International Airport while Trump was at Mar-a-lago on Palm Beach entertaining the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Carlos Ponce

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,”
ACTUAL QUOTE: "And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets."
"Into the US"? He was talking about the United States, not his family. Truncating Junior's statement is MISLEADING since it makes it sound like he's talking about the Trump investments not American. From context it is obvious he's talking about the United States when he talks of "our assets". Truth? If you go by Leftist sources you will never know the truth. So sad![sad]

George Croix

If associating with/talking with a Russian is proof of some wrongful collusion then the ENTIRE Democrat attendance at Pres. Trump's speech a couple weeks ago needs to be investigated, along with the ex-POTUS, too...
I don't mind at all an investigation, but investigate all, not just the opposition....

George Croix

My goodness!! The same, or a nearby, airport!!!
Bubba was in the same PLANE with Loretta back a few months ago......[beam][beam][beam]

Jim Forsythe

The truth will come out, when the investigations are finished. Make up your own mind , till then.
"lot of our assets; say, in Dubai, and   New York" Sounds like he was talking about the Trump family

The quote that’s made the rounds is this: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”
But that’s truncated. This is the whole quote:
And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New cross-section of a lot of our assets; say, in Dubai, and   New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.
In other words, when he said that Russians make up a disproportionate cross section of their assets, he wasn’t talking about assets in Russia; he was talking about Russians investing in Trump properties in the U.S.

Carlos Ponce

The assets in Dubai, New York and SoHo are hotels Junior was talking about. Can you say "he was talking about Russians investing in Trump properties in the U.S."? Sort of. They have to stay SOMEWHERE while traveling. And he sold to Russian businessmen with Rubles, not the Russian government. But they did buy his high priced condos. Anything wrong with that? Just business. Wouldn't you?

Mike Zeller

Anything wrong with that? Yes

Carlos Ponce

So Mike, doing business with a PRIVATE businessman or woman from another country puts you in COLLUSION with their Government?????
Really ???? Roy Segars would be upset with you!

Mike Zeller

That is your opinion he was dealing with private businessmen. If I were the Russians and wanted to cozy up to the next President of the United States, I would buy what he's selling. That opens up the line of communication to wheel and deal with each other. It seems every week we find that another close acquaintance of Trump has had recent dealings with the Russians. It also seems you've already come to the conclusion that he and his Administration are innocent of any wrong doings. I think I'm going to wait until the investigation is over, and go along with their findings. I don't think Roy Segars would be too upset, I heard he was a good Teacher, never met the man, before my time.


,

Carlos Ponce

The investigation was started during the Obama Administration and they concluded there was no collusion. Too bad you never met Mr. Segars. He was a Hitchcock teacher/ coach/ administrator between 1962 and 1984. He also served on the HISD School Board from 1990 to 1993. He taught at HHS when you were a student there teaching American History, Government and Texas History so not before your time. Very Conservative in political philosophy.

George Croix

Will we need a special prosecutor/independent investigator if any Russians buy Barack and Michelle's coming books, thus allowing them to profit from foreign sources?
How about if either gives a paid speech in Russia, or any other foreign country?
No, wait....I forgot, BHO is no longer President, so it doesn't count, now....
No doubt there'll be nothing in the book(s)/speeches referencing his time on our dime, anyway...... [whistling]
It's nice when an emolument changes locations and just becomes a profit..or foundation 'donation' payofff.....[rolleyes]

Jim Forsythe

Michelle was never a government employee. If her book divulges USA secrets, than yes . Just as there has been  many books by presidents after they left office, you can add Barack's . None that I have looked at have given away state info.
Barack , is no longer president , so he does not fall under the same requirement's as President Trump.
When a person writes a book , they have no control over who buys it. Will Trump not do business in places other than the USA after he leaves office? Of course he should be able to do so, just as he can write another book, if he wants to.
One of the more interesting places a book by a president might be
Six Crises by Richard M. Nixon
"The most valuable copy in the world would be the one somewhere in a Beijing library that Nixon autographed for Mao on his 1972 visit. Mao read the book before Nixon arrived."

George Croix

Sarcasm, Jim....just sarcasm.....
Of course it's not the same thing.....well, it is, but just at different times, but, who's counting....[innocent]

Jim Forsythe

Alternative Sarcasm, most people do not get my form of dry humor .
Six Crises by Richard M. Nixon  is not one of my top books to read.
But the point is that Mao was reading it to help him understand Nixon.
Fast forward to today, and the President is tweeting for the world to read.
We have to look no further than Kim Jong-in who is accused of killing off
Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of the North Korean leader.
If he is capable of this , what would he do if Trump tweeted something bad about him?
Live by the tweet, die by the tweet.
Hope the ancient Greek dramatist , do not haunt me for that.

Jim Forsythe

When can we believe him, and when will he no longer be a "neophyte." Other countries take our president at face value, and when he says something, it has weight on the world stage. If it ever gets to the point that they no longer believe what our president says, it will not be good.
Rep. Nunes described the President's tweets that he was wiretapped by President Obama as part of Trump being a political "neophyte."

George Croix

Jim, Rep. Nunes chooses to ignore the NYT wiretap headline from a few months back.
Perhaps he just thinks they were wrong....too...??
Here's a question: How did anybody know what was said in Flynn's office in Trump tower, that led to his ultimate downfall.....

"If it ever gets to the point that they no longer believe what our president says, it will not be good."
You mean, like when those other countries think about the 'Syrian red line', or 'there will be consequences for violating the Iran deal', or 'it was the video', or 'would have been too late to get to Benghazi on time', or 'we did not do anything wrong giving over a 100 billion cash to Iran'....it's been quite some time since any other country had any reason to believe a U.S. President......
Lest we forget.....
I agree that Pres. Trump needs to roll up his sleeves, the better to not be able to wear his feelings on them, and get to work best he can in the face of the Schumer/Pelosi/et al 'resistance'... but the country doesn't benefit from the selective indignation being thrown about, either...by anybody....
Less tweeting....
More defeating the path laid out by the architect, and minions, of the worst economic recovery in decades
imho

Mike Zeller

George, I agree, it was an Economic Recovery.

Mike Zeller

You have to play the hand that was dealt to you

George Croix

I hope we get a lot more for our money on the next 10 trillion bucks....
Playing the hand dealt is one thing, but repeatedly betting on drawing a royal straight flush at every game played while asking the dealer for 4 cards each time is a good way to show a lack of understanding of the game....or you're playing with somebody else's money...[wink]

Jim Forsythe

. "I hope we get a lot more for our money on the next 10 trillion bucks"
Even thou we like to call it the President budget, it is only his until he submits a budget request to Congress.
It then up to them to come up with the finial budget. This is ,unless the President veto's it. About 1/3 of the budget is for discretionary" spending, which is the only part the President or Congress has to work on. This is why Trump will have a hard time holding the budget down with all he wants to do. Such as when  he puts in for 15 Billion or so for the wall and what ever he comes up for roads and bridges and such , will congress be able to pass a budget that allows for this amount? 

"Expenditures are classified as "mandatory", with payments required by specific laws to those meeting eligibility criteria (e.g., Social Security and Medicare), or "discretionary", with payment amounts renewed annually as part of the budget process. Around two thirds of federal spending is for "mandatory" programs. CBO projects that mandatory program spending and interest costs will rise relative to GDP over the 2016–2026 period, while defense and other discretionary spending will decline relative to GDP" 
"The Trump administration is about to formally lay out its spending priorities for the country in its first budget proposal.
Some of the outlines are already out there, signaling a massive increase in military appropriations that will be offset by deep cuts to other discretionary spending, including foreign aid, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Coast Guard. President Donald Trump himself touched on some of these themes in his recent speech before Congress.
But some key Republicans wasted little time before deeming the president’s budget blueprint “dead on arrival,” with Senator Lindsey Graham calling it “politically unrealistic.”
A more apt description, however, might be “dead before arrival.”
Why would that be? Partly because it’s challenging to craft a budget during a transition year. More importantly, however, it’s because Trump’s proposal combines a slap-dash process with heavy-handed non-defense-spending cuts"
"The government is currently running on a continuing resolution for fiscal year 2017 after Republicans decided not to pass regular appropriations bills – which were supposed to be enacted by last October – until after President Trump took office. That continuing resolution expires on April 28.
So Congress will need to pass 2017 appropriation bills before it can even look at the 2018 budget"

Steve Fouga

My biggest concern is what he's done to the Dept of State's budget. I want to tell him: "Don't do it, Mr. President. Hillary's gone..." [sad] So sad, as he would say.

Carlos Ponce

Just like all government entities it is overbloated with redundant services and career personnel. The budget is still in the negotiation phase. If they can justify their piece of the pie then they will be heard. If not, their piece will be equitable to what they actually need. Tabled to be axed is foreign aid. Money given to foreign governments makes their leaders very wealthy.
"State Department programs that may be vulnerable include those promoting equality for women, gays and lesbians overseas..."
http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-deep-cuts-in-state-department-budget-1488314715-htmlstory.html
Throwing money at that problem won't change another country's culture. But it does make some people in this country feel better at the expense of taxpayers.

Steve Fouga

Yeah, Carlos, I wouldn't mind a reduction in certain aspects of foreign aid. But a big part of our status as leader of the free world depends on the State Department, through diplomacy, not just aid. I know you know this.

In general, I think President Trump's first pass at a budget is a good starting point for the inevitable wrangling over the next several months. It'll be an interesting year.

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