- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sen. Christopher Coons set the liberal Twitter world ablaze Friday night when he told MSNBC that the FBI has transcripts of intercepted calls that may spell out collusion between President Trump’s campaign and top Russians, maybe even President Vladimir Putin.

The Delaware Democrat, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, further said the transcripts “provide…. very critical insights” into whether Russian intelligence “were cooperating, were colluding” with the Trump team.

It appeared to be the first government disclosure that such top secret transcripts, likely the product of National Security Agency intercepts, exist.

The MSNBC producer for host Andrea Mitchell later tweeted, “Sen. Coons tells @mitchellreports that the FBI has transcripts that may show Russian leaders colluding with the Trump campaign.”

The tweet triggered over 3,000 gleeful retweets, such as, “If true Trump and his team are spending their golden years in Guantanamo.”

The senator later took to Twitter to tamp down the liberal excitement over a possible smoking gun. He emphasized that such transcripts “could” show collusion. He does not know.

“We need to find [out] whether or not Trump campaign colluded with Russia,” he said.

“He said nothing about what the transcripts say,” Sean Coit, his spokesman, told The Washington Times. “The key is that he did not say that transcripts proving collusion exist. Just that transcripts exist. And he did not say anything definitive about what those transcripts show.”

Both the Senate and House Intelligence committees are investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election via propaganda and by hacking into the Democratic Party emails. The big question is whether Trump people conspired with Russian intelligence, which directed the cyber attacks.

Mr. Coons told MSNBC, “There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin, were cooperating, were colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election. And if that information is stonewalled or hidden away and if we are not able to get that on the Senate intelligence committee, House intelligence committee then I think that has real consequences for our democracy.”

Of the transcripts, he said, “I have not seen them. I believe they exist.”

Mr. Coons was following a theme set by other Democrats: that FBI Director James Comey, in closed-door briefings, may not have been forthcoming in disclosing all he knows about possible Trump-Russia contacts.

The New York Times reported last month that the FBI has evidence of “repeated contacts” between Trump campaign staff and Russian intelligence. In other words: evidence of collision.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has said that the FBI deputy director told him the New York Times story was “BS.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said such contacts never happened and has called Times stories “false.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, has said at two press conferences that he has seen no evidence of Trump-Russia contacts or collusion during the campaign.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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