The Senate Intelligence Committee announced today that it found no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. As reported last week by CBS news, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said, “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” While Democrats reportedly countered that assertion, the counterpoint that NBC reported on Tuesday, attributed to a Democratic aide, still seemed to affirm that while they have plenty of indirect evidence there is indeed no direct evidence.
For savvy Palmer Report readers this comes as a bit of a shock. What about the evidence just uncovered in a Mueller filing, as reported in the Washington Post, of a meeting between Konstantin Kilimnik and Paul Manafort? Mueller believes this meeting goes “to the heart” of his investigation. The heart of Mueller’s investigation is conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. So, what do we make of the reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee found no direct evidence of a conspiracy.
First, remember that the Senate Intelligence Committee is relying heavily on testimony of witnesses they called before the committee. They do not have access to all the information and evidence that Mueller and his team have. Paul Manafort allegedly lied, even to Mueller and his team about his meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik. In fact, the whole reason we have access to the few unredacted sentences about this meeting between Kilimnik and Manafort, is because Mueller included information about it in a court filing to explain what Manafort lied about that invalidated his cooperation agreement.
So, we know that Mueller has direct evidence of this meeting. It is probable that the Senate Intelligence Committee does not have the evidence about this meeting, that Mueller has. Since Manafort jeopardized his cooperation agreement in order to keep information about this meeting from Mueller, it would seem impossible that anyone honestly testified about this meeting to the Senate. Further, the way Mueller found out about this meeting is most likely highly sensitive.
So, in the same week we have the Senate Intelligence Committee announcing that they have found no direct evidence of a conspiracy, while a filing from Mueller indicates a specific meeting between Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik is such evidence. All this means is that Mueller has evidence that the Senate Intelligence Committee does not.
Cheryl Kelley lives in the DC area with her husband and young son. She is active in government and politics.