On the heels of news that special counsel Robert Mueller has filed his first charges connected to the investigation of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia, the White House is desperately trying to shift blame to Hillary Clinton.
On Saturday morning, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that “[t]he evidence Clinton campaign, DNC & Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable.”
The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC & Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable->https://t.co/nLRAMrJK3c
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 28, 2017
There’s just one problem — there is in fact no evidence that the Clinton campaign colluded with foreign agents at all.
Sanders’ tweet about a “Clinton spokesman” refers to a story the Washington Post published Friday about how Marc Elias, general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, “hired a private research firm in the spring of 2016 to investigate Donald Trump.” That firm, named Fusion GPS, conducted research that culminated in the partially-verified Steele dossier exploring the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian operatives.
In that story, former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon is quoted as saying, “I am damn glad [Elias] pursued this on behalf of our campaign and only regret more of this material was not verified in time for the voters to learn it before the election.”
Sanders would have you believe that Elias’ decision to hire Fusion GPS — a firm that employed Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who wrote the dossier — is equivalent with the Trump campaign’s eagerness to collude with Russian government operatives in an effort to obtain incriminating information about Clinton: an effort we learned about in part because of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails.
But the Clinton campaign’s relationship with Fusion GPS is not equivalent to Trump campaign’s ties with Kremlin-connected operatives. As Vox details, there are at least three major differences — the initial funding for the Steele dossier came from anti-Trump Republicans, opposition research is not the same as colluding with a foreign government, and some of the claims in the Steele dossier have since been deemed credible by top-ranking U.S. intelligence officials operating independently of any political campaign.
Nonetheless, White House officials and Trump surrogates outside the administration have relentlessly tried to distract from the Trump-Russia scandal by ginning up new controversies around Clinton. During a Fox News interview conducted just hours before news of Mueller’s charges broke, Sanders went as far as to say she was “confident” that Mueller would “close” his investigation soon because “[i]f anyone was colluding with the Russians to influence the election, look no further than the Clintons and the DNC.”
On Saturday morning — hours after news of Mueller’s first charges became public — former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski took the level of delusion up a notch by pretending that it was in fact Clinton who had won the election, not Trump.
“What we should be focusing on are the continued lies of the Clinton administration — the continued fallacies that they perpetuated,” he said.
What Sanders and Lewandowski can’t explain is why Russian propaganda outlets and Kremlin operatives waged a massive disinformation campaign on behalf of Trump, if they were indeed colluding with his opponent.