A major progressive think tank wants Democrats to stop being shy about accusing the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia.
The Center for American Progress has written a nearly 50-page report for Democrats in Congress, making the case for collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. The report, a draft of which was reviewed by BuzzFeed News ahead of its release Wednesday, makes the bold claim that “it is now clear there was collusion” and “this is the biggest political scandal in American history.”
CAP’s report, which includes several appendices linking to news reports and quotes from the Trump administration, does not include any new information, but it does represent a push for a dramatic change of tone for Democrats in Congress.
“We're ... trying to convey that it’s time to stop beating around the bush on Trump’s collusion with Russia. There is a mountain of evidence that Trump and his associates colluded with Russia and it’s time to start saying so,” Adam Jentleson, senior strategic adviser and former deputy chief of staff for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, told BuzzFeed News in an email.
“We think it’s time to be a lot more forward-leading because the evidence is overwhelming.”
This is a drastic departure from what most Democrats in Congress have been saying since Trump entered the White House in January. At least in public, most congressional Democrats have yielded on the side of caution, calling for further investigation before alleging actual collusion — while at the same time emphasizing stories like the recent revelation that Donald Trump Jr. and others from the campaign spoke with a Russian lawyer last summer, in a meeting pitched to the president’s son with the promise of damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
“I think the reason why we’re putting this report out is that we need to sort of face the facts of what’s staring us in the face here,” Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at CAP and author of the report, told BuzzFeed News. “When you piece it all together and you lay out the facts, all the information that we know… the picture becomes very clear. And what is clear is that the president’s campaign was willing to collude with Russians and did.”
The Justice Department under special counsel Robert Mueller, the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee are all still conducting investigations on Russia interference in the US election and any involvement by the Trump campaign.
The draft of CAP’s report lays out everything the public knows about how the Trump campaign and Russia interacted during the campaign based on information gathered from press reports and congressional testimony. According to CAP, the evidence should be enough for Democrats to argue the campaign colluded with Russia.
CAP’s plan is to deliver the report to “key offices” on the Hill with the hope of giving Democrats the “confidence” to make a collusion argument. Jentleson said Democratic leadership, as well as members of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees in the House and Senate, will be receiving the report.
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Lissandra Villa is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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