Towards the end of one of our conversations, Smith made his pitch. He said that his team had been contacted by someone on the “dark web”; that this person had the emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which she had subsequently deleted), andthat Smith wanted to establish if the emails were genuine. If so, he wanted to ensure that they became public prior to the election. What he wanted from me was to determine if the emails were genuine or not.
It is no overstatement to say that my conversations with Smith shocked me. Given the amount of media attention given at the time to the likely involvement of the Russian government in the DNC hack, it seemed mind-boggling for the Trump campaign—or for this offshoot of it—to be actively seeking those emails. To me this felt really wrong.
See Josh Marshall for more. There doesn’t seem to be clear evidence of successful collusion, but there is clearly evidence of an interest in colluding with Russia on the part of folks in and around the Trump campaign, which seems worthy of investigation.
One more thing… if you’re the sort of person who likes to write 1800 word screeds or 60 tweet storms about how the Democratic Party is unwilling to really face its problems, and how this Russia stuff is all a smokescreen intended to protect the DNC, and intelligence agencies all lie all the time about everything, and bad people want nuclear war with Russia, then please save us the trouble of making your last nine words or last 140 characters “Nevertheless, I strongly support a real investigation into Russia’s electoral interference.” An investigation of potential Trump campaign collusion with the intelligence agencies of a right-wing, semi-autocratic country (agencies which may have repeatedly probed US voting systems looking for vulnerabilities) will not be made to happen under a Republican Congress by polite, measured requests. Media organizations will get things wrong, political leaders will exaggerate, and of course grifters will grift. Concentrating on these things, rather than on the increasingly troubling underlying story, serves to exculpate Republicans who want to sweep this under the rug. Better simply to end with “I prefer not to know about Russian influence over the election.”