On Wednesday afternoon, an enraged Adam Schiff went on television to lash out at fellow House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes, for his handling of the committee’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. (Earlier that day, Nunes had presented Donald Trump with related information without first briefing other members of the committee.) “There is more than circumstantial evidence now” that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians, Schiff told MSNBC.
We may have a hint of what that non-circumstantial evidence is. On Wednesday evening, CNN published a bombshell—a vague bombshell but a bombshell nonetheless—alleging that the FBI has evidence suggesting coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials in the release of “information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
While this is a very big deal indeed, the report is thin on actual details and heavily caveated. It is not clear which Trump campaign officials were allegedly speaking to Russian officials (Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn are all being investigated). We don’t know the roles the Russian officials held, or even what the damaging information was, though it is presumably the information leaked by Guccifer 2.0, the entity that hacked the Democratic National Committee. It’s also unclear if Trump campaign officials knew they were speaking to Russian officials, or if the campaign was unwittingly infiltrated.
Still, this report looks bad. It suggests that evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials may exist, something that Trump lackeys have been denying for months. And collusion is serious enough that it could bring down this administration. Even a vague report like this is a very bad omen for the future of the Trump presidency.
At the very least, it’s hard not to see this leak as being retaliation for Nunes’s weird and unethical freelancing earlier in the day. Russia is, as Nunes put it, “a big gray cloud” over the administration. This report only makes that cloud bigger and grayer.