Despite their concerns, newly released transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee show that Obama officials said they did not see evidence of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign conspiring with Russia.
“The transcripts released today richly detail evidence of the Trump campaign’s efforts to invite, make use of, and cover up Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential election,” Schiff said in a statement on Thursday.
However, in the newly released transcripts, James Clapper, who was the director of National Intelligence under the Obama administration, said to the committee in 2017, “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.”
“That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence. … But I do not recall any instance where I had direct evidence,” Clapper said.
Additionally, Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice was asked by former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) during a hearing with the committee in September of 2017 if she had seen any “actual coordination between the campaign” in her “official capacity” in the previous administration.
Rice responded, “To the best of my recollection, there wasn’t anything smoking, but there were some things that gave me pause.”
She earlier had answered a similar question if she recalled seeing any evidence that suggested Trump “conspired” with Russia “to interfere with or influence the 2016 election.”
Rice said, “I don’t recall intelligence that I would consider evidence to that effect that I saw prior – of conspiracy prior to my departure.” She was then asked if she saw any evidence that would suggest Trump’s campaign colluded or coordinated with Russia, in which she said it was the same answer, that she does not “recall intelligence or evidence to that effect.”
Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser, in October of 2017, was similarly asked by Gowdy if he saw any evidence of collusion, to which he answered, “I wouldn’t have received any information of any criminal or counterintelligence investigations into what the Trump campaign was doing, so I would not have seen that information.”
Asked again later, Rhodes said, “I saw indications of potential coordination, but I did not see, you know, the specific evidence of the actions of the Trump campaign.”
In October of 2017, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also was pressed by Gowdy, where she was asked a similar question.
“I mean, because the intelligence that I received came from the Intelligence Community, I had no – anything that would have come to me would have been in their possession first. They would have provided that,” she said, adding, “So I am not in possession of anything else that – any other information that came from, for instance, my diplomatic colleagues or from other sources.“