Former CIA director John Brennan writes in response to President Trump’s peevish decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance:
The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of [Hillary] Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.
Trump’s request was an effort to solicit something of value — stolen emails — from a foreign national, in fact, the government of a hostile power. If Donald Trump Jr. has criminal liability for agreeing to a meeting with the intention of getting “dirt” on Clinton, then what is Trump’s defense to doing the same, albeit in public and in search of stolen emails. Trump’s defense is that he was “kidding,” but we’ve seen many instances in which “just kidding” was the excuse proved to be serious, troublesome statements from the president.
It should not escape notice that the Russians acted immediately on Trump’s request. The Post’s Philip Bump recounts:
“If it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything,” [Trump] said. “But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this — Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing [from Clinton’s private server]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.” . . .
The same day, the GRU hackers allegedly try to access Clinton’s personal email server in addition to targeting 76 more email addresses within the campaign. The indictment doesn’t mention any other attempt to access the server.
Looking back on Trump’s statement, it is curious he would predict that a hack of Clinton’s private server would be next.
In short, Trump openly sent a message to the Russians and got immediate action. To say there was “no collusion” is to ignore Trump’s public incitement of Russian hacking, as well as the Trump Tower meeting between his son, son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a group of Russians; Carter Page’s contacts with Russians and his pro-Russian speech in Russia; and George Papadopoulos’s outreach to those he believed were affiliated with Russia and might have access to dirt on Clinton. That doesn’t even account for any alleged contacts between Roger Stone and Russia’s favorite cut-out, WikiLeaks.
Brennan muses that if Trump called for Russian help in public, it “certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election.”
It bears repeating that we know a fraction of what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III knows, but at this stage, it is not debatable that some members of the Trump campaign — including the candidate — sought help from a hostile power. That’s collusion by any layman’s definition, and it’s a High Crime and Misdemeanor in the minds of many Americans.