Well, we’re at it again with the Russian collusion narrative. The New York Times has another “scoop” about Russians Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort possibly, which they later admit don’t really know if it’s true. Manafort briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager, while Flynn had a short stint as national security adviser before being fired for misleading the vice president about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Buried in the story is the fact that the Times admits that they don’t know if the Russians tried to influence these two men:
American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.
Some Russians boasted about how well they knew Mr. Flynn. Others discussed leveraging their ties to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine living in exile in Russia, who at one time had worked closely with Mr. Manafort.
The intelligence was among the clues — which also included information about direct communications between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russian officials — that American officials received last year as they began investigating Russian attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates were assisting Moscow in the effort. Details of the conversations, some of which have not been previously reported, add to an increasing understanding of the alarm inside the American government last year about the Russian disruption campaign.
The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing. It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election.
In February, the Times reported that Trump associates, including Manafort, had contact with Russian intelligence officials a year before the election, though they admit that some of them have done business in Russia and coming into contact with the intelligence apparatus there isn’t unusual. Also, they noted that there was no evidence of collusion. In March, CNN said that the FBI was analyzing information about Trump officials communicating with suspected Russian operatives to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Again, in the report, CNN added FBI “officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive,” and that “the FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place.”
Then, prior to all of this there was the unverified and uncorroborated Russian dossier compiled by a former MI6 operative as part of an anti-Trump opposition research project. The dossier’s contents remain largely unverified, though we do know, thanks to CNN, that Russian government officials talked to…other Russians, but we don’t know what they discussed.
Reuters recently reported that Trump associates, including Flynn, had 18 undisclosed contacts with the Russians in the last seven months of the 2016 election. Again, buried in the story was that fact that “the people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far.”
It’s fits another emerging narrative: there was no Russian collusion, which is backed up by the fact that there is no evidence of collusion.