Throughout the Trump-Russia investigation, the core question was whether President Trump or his associates colluded with Russia to try to influence the 2016 election. If there were proof of that, the effect on Trump’s presidency would have been devastating, and possibly fatal.

The problem, for people who hoped to see that result, has been that after a lot of investigating, no evidence has emerged.

Last week some of the lawmakers most deeply involved in the investigation conceded there appeared to be nothing there.

The thrust of leaks in recent days has been directed almost exclusively toward building a case of obstruction of justice against the president, charging that he actively tried to derail the investigation into his campaign and his associates. More and more, day after day, Trump’s adversaries believe that, when it comes to bringing down the president, it might not matter if collusion occurred or not. A cover-up would be enough to do the job.

The latest story in the cover-up timeline broke Monday night in The Washington Post. The paper reported that Trump called the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to “push back” against the FBI investigation and to “publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.”

Before that came a spate of reports and developments, all arising out of Trump’s May 9 firing of FBI Director James Comey.

First, the White House portrayed the firing as 1) not Trump’s doing, and 2) not related to the Russia investigation.

Then Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had in fact decided to fire Comey because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

Then, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to investigate the Russia affair. Rosenstein specifically gave that prosecutor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, authority to pursue any “federal crimes arising from the investigation” and specifically referenced 28 CFR 600.4(a), which is the part of the Code of Federal Regulations dealing with special counsels and obstruction.

Then The New York Times reported that Comey wrote contemporaneous memos of his interactions with the president, and that during one of those interactions Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Then the Times reported Trump, in an Oval Office meeting, bragged to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. that firing Comey relieved Trump of “great pressure” in the Russia investigation.

Before Trump fired Comey, a likely conclusion of the Russia affair was coming into view. There would be scalps for Democrats to celebrate, but the most consequential issue — collusion — would end in nothing.

That was before Comey was sacked. Now, the investigation has taken what is for Trump a more ominous turn. Focusing on alleged obstruction, the president’s enemies no longer have to find an underlying crime to attempt to remove him from office.

All the while, some Republicans have found themselves asking over and over: But what about collusion? Remember that? If there’s no crime at the bottom of the Russia affair, then isn’t all of this just much ado about nothing?

The answer is no. Certainly Trump has good arguments to make in his defense, beginning with what legally constitutes obstruction. But after the last two weeks, his supporters can no longer assume that his detractors will have to find an underlying crime to make big trouble for the president.

Byron York

is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

(21) comments

Steve Fouga

Most important is determining how Russia interfered in our election, how to prevent it in the future, and whether the U.S. is still the subject, witting or unwitting, of a Russian op.

Next most important is determining whether Trump or his administration under his direction conspired to obstruct justice, because that is an impeachable offense no matter if they colluded or not.

Next most important is to determine whether they actually colluded. If so, that is certainly worthy of prison terms.

This is all serious stuff, and should be treated as such.

Carlos Ponce

Did the Russians try to interfere in our elections? Yes they did, they've done so in the past and will try to do so in the future. It will take more than a President (Obama) telling Putin to "Cut it out!"
Was there collusion between Team Trump and the Russians?
James Clapper says NO.
Senator Diane Feinstein says NO!
Rep. Maxine Waters says NO! but says she still hopes for impeachment.
Etc, etc. etc.
Obstruction of Justice? Just rumors , speculation and Liberal wishful thinking. No evidence.
Senator Mazie Hirono : “So if the attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?

And Comey’s response: “In theory, yes.”

Hirono: “Has it happened?”

Comey: “Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there, and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.”
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Steve Fouga

Hahahahaha! Carlos, you're a hoot!

The Russians didn't just try, they DID interfere in our election. That's old news. Admit it.

Almost nobody (whose opinion I value) says the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians; they say they have no evidence YET, but there's plenty of evidence saying it's requires investigation to decide definitively one way or the other. I personally believe this is FAKE NEWS! I believe they DO have evidence of collusion, and they're building their case. It's just a matter of time before we see indictments.

Obstruction, Carlos, that's what will get him. It's close, Carlos; it's coming... The Pope knows. You could see it in his face... [wink]

Carlos Ponce

So the Putin Heads want the investigation to continue. That's fine.
Can you find ONE PERSON whose vote was influenced by the Russians?????
One vote that was changed by the Russians????
Trump won 304 Electoral votes to Hillary's 227. Are you saying the Russians were in cahoots with any of the 304 Electors who voted for Trump? And then there are popular votes that go along with those Electoral votes. Were they FAKED or INFLUENCED as well???
Was there Russian influence in 1789 to convince the writers of the Constitution to go with an Electoral College instead of popular vote????
One state whose Electoral votes were changed (except by over zealous Electors)?
Were the Electoral votes for Colin Powell, John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders and Faith Spotted Eagle due to Russian influence?????
And Putin Heads are the only ones who are calling out collusion and obstruction. It's a waste of time. Problem is inside the swamp, Putin Heads are taking up valuable time and taxpayer money. So far NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you can claim it's coming but then you can say Santa Claus is coming too! And the Tooth Fairy! And that Easter Bunny came and went, didn't it, Steve? With youthful glee , Liberals grab onto ANYTHING concerning this President and claim it's the beginning of Impeachment proceedings. Then the light of day shows - NOTHING!
Steve, that creature hiding under your bed when you were young wasn't a monster - it was the Russians![wink]

Steve Fouga

Carlos, of course I can't find individuals whose vote was definitively influenced by the Russians. But my estimate of apathetic Republicans and Independents who might have decided to sit this one out, but were energized by Russian bots and trolls, is several million.

Carlos Ponce

"Carlos, of course I can't find individuals whose vote was definitively influenced by the Russians." Don't worry about it NO ONE can!

Jim Forsythe

Was there collusion between Team Trump and the Russians?
This will help answer the questions.
"Mueller is authorized to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and...any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."  

Carlos Ponce

And when the answer is "NO COLLUSION" will the Putin Heads accept that or continue to claim this BS?

Steve Fouga

What is a Putin Head?

I would accept it. At this point I would bet that there WAS collusion, but I think there's a good chance that there wasn't. I'm convinced that the Russians influenced our election, but not convinced there was collusion in that influence.

I think there are probably other, stronger ties to Russia -- financial ties -- that should be investigated, that are MUCH more likely than collusion in the election.

Jim Forsythe

And if the answer is  COLLUSION", what will your response be ?  I have no idea what they will find.
Also , they are looking at all things, that may be connected to Russia .
Such as, Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared Kushner’s sister , were they selling EB-5 visa.
Find out the truth, is the best way to go.

Carlos Ponce

There was collusion - between Hillary and the Russians!
Nicole Kushner Meyer is a non-elected civilian citizen, not connected to this administration. Like I posted, Putin Heads will grasp at ANYTHING.

Jim Forsythe

Sorry,selling of EB 5 visas was in China. What may be wrong with that  is ,  Jared Kushner family may be selling visas , and influence.
"The event was organized by Beijing-based immigration services company QWOS and Kushner Companies, according to an advertisement on the Chinese company's website, which says the project is seeking $150 million from 300 EB-5 investors. 


NSA Director Mike Rogers    27 May 2017
'He stated, "There is no question that we [meaning NSA] have evidence of election involvement and questionable contacts with the Russians."
'Although Rogers did not cite the specific intelligence he was referring to, agency officials with direct knowledge have informed me that DIRNSA was obviously referring to a series of SIGINT reports from 2016 based on intercepts of communications between known Russian intelligence officials and key members of Trump’s campaign, in which they discussed methods of damaging Hillary Clinton.'
The security expert went on to support reports alleging the president asked Rogers - along with National Intelligence Director Dan Coats - to 'go public in denying that Team Trump had any ties to Russia during the 2016 election campaign'.
So it is good, that we will find out.

"There was collusion - between Hillary and the Russians! "
If a special prosecutor  had been appointed , we may have a answer now , instead of  guessing

Carlos Ponce

[sleeping]

Jim Forsythe

 Deflection, is the way to go. 
And if the answer is  COLLUSION", what will your response be ?

Carlos Ponce

No evidence of "COLLUSION" between Team Trump and the Russians concerning the election. "Nuff said.

Steve Fouga

What is a Putin Head, Carlos? Is that a Russian Republican code word? [ninja]

Carlos Ponce

A Putin Head is one who 's mind is always on "Russia, Russia, Russia". They use Putin to blame for their own shortcomings. Instead of blaming their choice for a poor candidate -BLAME PUTIN.

Jim Forsythe

Steve , you can buy a Putin head at
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=putin+head

He did not want to answer , what his reaction would be if Robert Mueller, came back with a COLLUSION" finding  between Team Trump and the Russians .  If there was not a chance of a guilty finding , no special counsel would have been appointed.

Carlos Ponce

There will be no COLLUSION finding, so why answer a ridiculous conjecture. How will Jim react when Trump is re-elected President? Now that's a real possibility![beam]

Jim Forsythe

" If it's  ridiculous conjecture", why the special  counsel ? .

"Donald Trump is still the President of the United States. But if odds makers are right, there’s a good chance that he won’t hold office for much longer, owing to the firing of FBI director James Comey and the revelation that Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians during an Oval Office meeting.
As of May 11, Trump’s odds of being impeached during his first term were sitting at a whopping 60 percent.
The odds are part of a host of “Donald Trump Specials” offered by the Irish betting house Paddy Power. (Vegas doesn’t let you bet on anything but sports.) It includes bets that Trump will be impeached for treason (6/1 odds) "

If Trump is re-elected President then the Democrats' will have missed the mark. I would  be Ok with it,  but hope he would win the popular vote . This is how the system is made, the winner becomes president.

Jim Forsythe

Maybe he was saying, pudding head!

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