“Circumstantial evidence” indicates collusion between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team and Russian interference in the election, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told NBC’s “Meet The Press” that there was also “direct evidence” of deception.
“There is circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said. “There is direct evidence, I think, of deception, and that’s where we begin the investigation.”
He added: “There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation. The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more.”
When James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, appeared on the same program earlier this month, he said that intelligence investigators had found no evidence of such collusion.
“We did not include anything in our report … that had any reflect of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians,” Clapper said. “We had no evidence of such collusion.”
Schiff was “surprised” by Clapper’s assessment.
“I don’t think you can make that claim categorically as he did,” Schiff said. However, he offered no details about the alleged circumstantial evidence.
When asked on “Fox News Sunday” if he had seen any evidence of collusion between the Russians and Trump associates, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) appeared to contradict Schiff’s assessment.
“I’ll give you a very simple answer: No. Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning, there’s no evidence of collusion,” Nunes said.
Both Nunes and Schiff agreed that there was no evidence supporting Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped his phones.
“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was,” Nunes said.
“Once again, no evidence to support the president’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor,” Schiff concurred. “I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the president said was just patently false.”
U.S. intelligence officials revealed in a report late last year that hackers organized by the Kremlin had leaked emails by the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to sway the election for Trump. Trump frequently praised Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign, and at one point appeared to urge Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a campaign rally.
The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on Monday about Russian attempts to interfere in the presidential election and on Trump’s wiretapping claims.