Up to now, the big picture crux of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal has come down to whether his campaign advisers were merely communicating with the Russian government or colluding with the Russian government. The former would merely represent something improper and unseemly. The latter would would represent criminal intent to rig an election. But when former CIA Director John Brennan testified before Congress today, he introduced a different word which changed everything.
Republican Congressman and Donald Trump apologist Trey Gowdy tried to back Brennan into the corner of having to admit that he didn’t know for sure that there had been collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Brennen fired back with the following answer which, despite being long, seemed to have been carefully worded in advance in case the question was asked:
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign, that I was concerned about because of the known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. I don’t know whether or not such ‘collusion’ – and that’s your term, collusion – existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding, with Russian officials.”
Much of the above consists of what you’ve heard before; we all know the Trump campaign was talking and meeting with Russian government officials. But the word that changes everything is “suborn.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is “to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing” (link). Brennan is saying that he was concerned the Russian government was trying to recruit Trump’s campaign advisers to break the law. And so for the first time we have a government official stating his suspicion that it wasn’t merely contact, but may have instead been collusion. And that changes everything. If you’re a regular reader, feel free to support Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report