We’ve learned of so much circumstantial evidence, so many odd events, and so many links between Trump advisers and Russia that it can be hard to focus on the instances in which there is tangible information pointing to some specific collusion between them.
So far, there aren’t many. In fact, there are only two instances we’ve heard of so far — both of which we’ve only learned of in the past few weeks.
All other allegations of collaboration, collusion, or information-sharing between Trump’s advisers and Russia are at this point theoretical, circumstantial, and/or unproven.
But the sheer amount of circumstantial material involving multiple actors from Donald Trump on down also appears strange and suspicious. The big picture is that there is a whole lot of smoke. Whether there is fire is the subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
For now, though, let’s go through everything we actually know about the scandal, beginning with the most solid evidence of attempted collusion.
The most suggestive indicators of collusion during the campaign so far
here are two examples where there are at least some signs of specific collusion between Trump advisers and the Russian government.
First, there’s the email thread and subsequent meeting in which Donald Trump Jr. agrees to take a meeting because he’s told he’ll get damaging information about Hillary Clinton that is coming from the Russian government.
Second, there are the reports that a GOP operative who contacted Russian hackers in search of Clinton’s deleted emails last fall suggested he was in contact with Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser, about his effort.
Importantly, though, we have no evidence at this point that either of these efforts proved to be successful — from what we know now, they could both fall into the category of what we might call “attempted collusion.”
Still, they suggest that top Trump advisers were certainly willing to cooperate with Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton, and they make one wonder what else these and other advisers may have done on that front.