FX Network

That Republicans colluded with Russian hackers to subvert the 2016 election is now beyond dispute.

Probably because he knows he didn’t wittingly invite Russian intelligence operatives into his campaign headquarters to conduct a strategy session, President Donald Trump has tried to establish a ridiculous bar for wrongdoing: As long as he, personally, didn’t conspire with Russians to sabotage Democratic campaigns, then there is no scandal.

New reporting from the Wall Street Journal underscores how ludicrous this standard is. We know Republicans worked hand in glove with Russian hackers because they more or less did so out in the open, just as super PACs take instruction from the public comments of the politicians they support. Now we know there was a private collaboration as well.

[A] hacker also privately sent Democratic voter-turnout analyses to a Republican political operative in Florida named Aaron Nevins.

Learning that hacker “Guccifer 2.0” had tapped into a Democratic committee that helps House candidates, Mr. Nevins wrote to the hacker to say: “Feel free to send any Florida based information.”

Ten days later, Mr. Nevins received 2.5 gigabytes of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee documents, some of which he posted on a blog called HelloFLA.com that he ran using a pseudonym.

Soon after, the hacker sent a link to the blog article to Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, along with Mr. Nevins’ analysis of the hacked data.

One step removed from the Trump campaign, a Republican operative requested and received stolen Democratic documents, and used them to advance domestic strategic ends. Whether Nevins knew Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence cutout or his solicitation of stolen goods rises to the level of a crime remains to be seen. But this story is like a blueprint of how “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia could have worked short of Trump campaign operatives telling Philip and Elizabeth from The Americans what to steal and how to deploy it. It’s a huge scandal. If “Guccifer 2.0” were a domestic super PAC, it would be a crime. The fact that this might skate the line of legality doesn’t suggest it should be without consequence, but that nobody until now imagined needing to outlaw behavior this cretinous.