Clapper, Schiff Try to Keep the Fading Russia Collusion Narrative Alive

Though Rod Rosenstein said no Americans knowingly participated in U.S. election interference, two top Dems continue speculating

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 18 Feb 2018 at 9:15 PM

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper kept the Trump-Russia collusion narrative alive Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” — even though Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared to have killed that account last week.

Rosenstein announced Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted 13 Russians in connection with illegal interference in the 2016 election. He stressed, however, that there still “is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity” of swaying the election in President Donald Trump’s favor.

But Rosenstein’s announcement didn’t stop Clapper and Schiff from emphasizing there still could be Trump-Russia collusion lurking about in the legal shadows, waiting to be discovered.

Clapper (shown above) said Rosenstein’s statement “was very precisely and carefully worded” and noted that “the indictment itself reflected no collusion, in the same way it acknowledged that the members of the Trump campaign were unwitting participants in this.”

“This is not to say there weren’t. And I do think there are other shoes to drop here besides this indictment, which, by the way, I think, did serve to validate with a higher evidentiary bar the intelligence community assessment that was rendered in January of 2017,” Clapper said.

When CNN anchor Dana Bash asked Clapper to clarify what he meant by “shoes to drop,” the former DNI said that the “potential involvement of the Russian government” and the potential “financial entanglements between the Trump Organization” and Russia weren’t addressed in the indictment.

“Are you confident there are financial entanglements that are problematic?” Bash asked Clapper.

The former DNI replied, “Well, I don’t know.”

"I'm just saying that we haven't seen much on that. And I have to think that the special counsel and his team are looking at that, simply by looking at the composition of who's on that team," Clapper said.

Schiff also continued the Trump-Russia collusion narrative during an appearance on "State of the Union," saying that Mueller's indictments of the 13 Russians "ought to put to rest for anyone, including the president, who continues to call this a witch hunt, that the evidence is now overwhelming and unequivocal, and we need to move to protect ourselves from Russian interference in elections that are coming up."

Related: Former Prosecutor on Collusion Narrative — 'It's Over'

Pointing to Rosenstein's insistence that no known American knowingly colluded with the Russians to sway the election in Trump's favor, Bash asked Schiff, "Do you think this indictment suggests that it's a case closed, no collusion?"

"No, of course, not. But this is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes," Schiff said. "Now, on that, the Trump campaign, and indeed candidate Trump himself, was very witting of what was going on. Indeed, the whole country was, when on October 7, the intelligence community told the country, the Russians are behind this. They're behind the hacking and the dumping."

Trump addressed the collusion narrative and Rosenstein's announcement on Twitter on Friday, writing, "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!"

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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