Today in collusion

Did the Trump campaign “collude” with friends of Vladimir Putin in the presidential campaign of 2016? I don’t think so, but the Clinton campaign certainly seems to have done so. Yet former FBI Director James Comey engineered the appointment of his good friend Robert Mueller to head a special counsel investigation in “collusion” with the New York Times. We have Comey’s testimony under oath telling the story. There might even have been a law or two that he broke in the process, but I’m pretty sure Comey’s good friend won’t be going there.

Today the New York Times returns to the collusion beat in Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo’s “FBI warned Hope Hicks about emails from Russian operatives.” Goldman and Apuzzo report: “F.B.I. officials warned one of President Trump’s top advisers, Hope Hicks, earlier this year about repeated attempts by Russian operatives to make contact with her during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the events.” But “[t]here is no evidence that Ms. Hicks did anything improper.”

There is the usual veil of ignorance reflecting the Times’s remove from the underlying facts:

The contents of the emails to Ms. Hicks are unclear, as are the identities of the Russians who sent them. The people who described the briefing and the emails spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to openly discuss intelligence matters. The F.B.I. declined to comment.

On Thursday and Friday, investigators working for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, interviewed Ms. Hicks as part of his investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers assisted the Russian campaign. It is not clear whether the Russian efforts to contact Ms. Hicks were discussed during that interview.

As she received additional information from the FBI, Hicks reported her meetings to White House counsel Don McGahn.

One has to read nearly to the end of the story to find this (italics supplied for emphasis): “In some ways, the Russian outreach to Ms. Hicks undercuts the idea that the Russian government had established deep ties to the Trump campaign before the election. If it had, Russian officials might have found a better entrèe to the White House than unprompted emails to Ms. Hicks.”

It’s almost funny.

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