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President Trump’s collusion with Russia “is hiding in plain sight,” a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee told the Yahoo News podcast “Bots & Ballots.”
“I know of no other way to interpret then-candidate Trump openly, publicly encouraging Russia to hack a computer system,” Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., told host Grant Burningham when asked about the evidence of efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election with the Kremlin’s backing.
“I know of no other way to interpret the fact that then-candidate Trump’s campaign manager and son-in-law and son met with agents on behalf of the Russian government with the expectation of being ‘dirt’ on his opponent, Secretary Clinton: That is collusion,” he continued. “So collusion is well-established.”
In the interview, Heck scoffed at the conclusions offered in April by his Republican colleagues on the Intelligence Committee that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic lawmaker argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations have concluded Russian intelligence officers sought to boost Trump’s candidacy.
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“It was significant. It was material. It was pervasive,” Heck said of Russia’s interference, adding, “Let’s begin with reminding everyone that it is a violation of federal law for a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election. That’s against the law, that’s why so many of those Russian intelligence officers were indicted in accordance with Bob Mueller’s investigation.”
Heck further said that Republicans on the Intelligence Committee and the president have neglected their duty to safeguard America’s election from a variety of threats.
“We’re behind in our efforts to deal with it. This behavior will continue until it’s effectively deterred,” Heck said.
“And what that will require is an administration that’s willing to stand up to Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Iran and North Korea … and make them pay a penalty or a price sufficiently large that makes them say, ‘It’s not worth it to us anymore.’ And unfortunately, to date, President Trump has not been willing to do that. In fact, he’s sent the reverse signal to that, including regularly claiming that Russian interference in the last election was a hoax.”
For Burningham’s full interview with Heck, click here.
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