The investigation into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russia during last year's presidential campaign has been quiet lately, having been overtaken in the news by more immediate events. But it has not gone away, and may, in fact, be heading in some interesting directions.
On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee spent 10 hours behind closed doors with Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C., research firm that, at the request of a still-unnamed Republican campaign during the presidential primaries, contracted with former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to put together a report of opposition research on Trump. Later, after that Republican dropped out of the race, the contract was allegedly taken over by the Clinton campaign.
We don't yet know what Simpson told Judiciary, and the head of that committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was a bit mealy-mouthed when asked if he will release the transcripts of the day's grilling of Simpson.
Which brings us to Thursday, when Andrea Mitchell interviewed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, on her MSNBC show. During the interview, Schiff said something that will make Donald Trump's supporters very unhappy:
MITCHELL: Where do we stand on the investigation into finding out whether the really troubling contents of that so-called dossier may be true?
SCHIFF: [...] When you look at just what has become public, some of the public information is very much in line with what is reported in that dossier. And I'll give you one example that really strikes me ...
Hang on, I'm going to lean forward in anticipation:
“The dossier talks about sources within the Kremlin reporting that they have three goals. They want to find out what support friendly U.S. persons would want, they want to gather relevant intelligence, and then they want to disseminate compromising information. Well, all of that is implicated in the Don Jr. emails that have already been released.”
And Don Jr. was the one who so cleverly released them! This whole scheme is like if the guys who made “Super Troopers” went on to remake “All the President's Men”:
“An effort by the Russians through their proxies to find out what the Trump campaign would want, and what they want was negative information about Hillary Clinton. They certainly gather that intelligence by hacking into Democratic institutions. And they certainly disseminated that intelligence. So the three core goals that are outlined in that dossier by that particular source do seem to be very well borne out.”
There are a lot of people, including the president, who at this point will scream, “Where's the evidence???” But there is still a shape hidden by a thick fog, and Schiff is laying out a broad outline of what may be hiding in that fog:
“I think people put too much focus on the salacious allegations within the dossier. [...] That's the least significant part of the dossier from my point of view.”
The “salacious allegations” have long been used to attack the credibility of the whole thing. From what Schiff is saying, though, it is the less salacious stuff that Trump needs to worry investigators are uncovering.