An MSNBC panel struggled to believe the latest report that the Senate Intelligence Committee has found “no direct evidence” of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia.
As news continued to break about the Committee’s findings, MSNBC host Hallie Jackson and her guests seemed at first surprised and then almost skeptical.
“After two years and interviewing more than 200 witnesses, the Senate Intelligence Committee has not uncovered any direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia,” intelligence and national security correspondent for NBC News, Ken Dilanian, reported Tuesday.
“That’s according to sources on both the Republican and the Democratic side of the aisle,” he 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,” Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS News last week, prompting more questions, according to Dilanian.
Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
“What I found,” Dilanian said,” is that Democrats don’t dispute that characterization.”
He noted that the final report is not yet out and will likely question the judgement of those in Trump’s presidential campaign.
“But, again, no direct proof of a conspiracy. As one Democratic aide said to me, ‘we never thought we were going to find a Democrat between Trump and Vladimir Putin saying let’s collude, but the question is how do we interpret all these various contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia,’” Dilanian concluded.
Jackson looked for some clarification.
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but I want to make sure I’m understanding this,” she said.
“If and when the president, as he may inevitably do, point to this reporting point to these conclusions and says look, the Senate Intelligence Committee found I’m not guilty of conspiracy, he would be correct in saying that?” Jackson asked, seeming surprised.
Dilanian appeared to affirm the conclusion but noted that, as the committee was not a court of law, the use of a “not guilty” phrase would not apply. He also indicated that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has not wrapped up his investigation yet and may have information that the Intelligence Committee was not privy to.
“That said, Trump will claim vindication through this, and he’ll be partially right,” he said.
“If there was an intercept between officers suggesting they were conspiring with the Trump campaign, [the committee] would see that. And that has not emerged,” he explained. “So that evidence does not exist, and Trump will claim vindication.”
Dilanian’s report seemed only to bring up more issue for Shawna Thomas of Vice News.
“There’s two things I question about [the report],” she said.
“Number one, if and when the report finally comes out from the Senate Intelligence Committee, is there anything in there that will cause, especially some of these new House Dems, to start to clamor, even if there isn’t ‘conspiracy’ or ‘collusion’, for impeachment?” Thomas asked.
“The other thing is, based on what Ken is saying, it’s all stuff we knew already,” Thomas noted, apparently conflicting with MSNBC’s treatment of the report as breaking news.