By Matt Taibbi
The Senate Intelligence Committee, the Treasury, and even Robert Mueller pointed fingers. But none bothered to question him.
On Real Time With Bill Maher two Fridays ago, I fumbled and deflected politely over a Russiagate question, instead of going full cage match. The segment went off the rails beginning with this exchange:
MAHER: You compared it to WMDs. You said, the Russia connection with Trump is this generation’s WMD. I don’t think that’s an accurate analogy, because there were no WMDs. But there was collusion with Russia.
TAIBBI: Really? Where?
MAHER: Where? The Senate Intelligence Committee, run by Republicans, who are if anything slavish to Trump, their report said, “The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a ‘grave’ counterintelligence threat.”
First of all, that quote isn’t from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report from last August. It’s actually a paraphrase of the report from an Associated Press article, “Trump campaign’s Russia contacts ‘grave’ threat, Senate says,” which reads:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday…
The real SSCI quote is a little different:
Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.
By all rights, Russiagate should be dead as a serious news story. But as the Real Time episode showed, “collusion” is still alive for some, and the bulk of the case essentially rests now upon the characterization of one person from the above passage as a Russian agent: a former aide to Paul Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik.