The Russian scandal is one of the most confusing political stories in recent history. This is not because the facts of the case are especially convoluted. But rather because we are drowning in information, and can barely keep our head above the rising tide of revelations.
Every day there are new reports of obstruction of justice, violations of elections laws, charges of tax evasion, guilty pleas for perjury, and even accusations of plotting to kidnap a Turkish dissident. There is so much going on, it is easy to forget the question at the heart of the scandal: did the Trump campaign collude with a foreign power to influence the election? When you consider these seven facts (all footnoted), a clear answer emerges.
1. Moscow offered to help the Trump campaign multiple times. Campaign advisor George Papadopoulos has testified that high-level Russian officials offered him “dirt on Clinton”. Someone who Donald Trump Jr. believed was a “Crown Prosecutor of Russia” offered him “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary”. Later, Trump Jr. met with three Russians claiming to have these documents (including Natalia Veselnitskaya, who described herself as a “Russian government attorney” and was a former intelligence officer).
2. The Trump campaign responded positively to these offers. Trump Jr. reacted to one with the message: “If it’s what you say I love it”. Senior campaign advisor Sam Clovis told Papadopoulos “Great work” and supported his request to travel to Russia for more “off the record meetings”. Donald Trump even openly encouraged the Kremlin to hack into Clinton’s emails during a rally speech.
3. The Kremlin then delivered as promised and interfered in the election to help Trump, a fact agreed upon by the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. They stole emails from the Clinton campaign, and then leaked them online. Moscow used fake social media accounts and paid advertising to stir up unrest and to boost Trump’s popularity. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Russia may have even attempted to hack into voting systems in up to 21 states.
4. The Trump campaign knew the Kremlin was helping them. In addition to all the media reports during the election, the U.S. government formally and publicly accused Russia of interference in October. Senior Republican lawmakers were given full intelligence briefings detailing Moscow’s efforts to help Trump. In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately put party before country—if the White House made public the full extent of Russia’s partisan interference in the election, McConnell threatened to accuse Obama of…partisan interference in the election.
5. The Trump campaign has repeatedly attempted to hide its Russian connections. Flynn and Papadopoulos have admitted they lied to the FBI about their meetings. Campaign officials denied any meeting with Russians, and when the Trump Tower meeting was exposed, Trump and his son lied about the nature of the conversation. Donald Trump and Vice-President Michael Pence repeatedly claimed there were absolutely no contacts with Russia. So far, 30 separate meetings and dozens if not hundreds of emails and phone calls have been documented.
6. The Trump team has continually tried to undermine American efforts to punish Russia for this interference. Flynn, during the transition, asked the Russian ambassador not to overreact to the new Obama sanctions, and told others these would be “ripped up” once they were in office. After Trump was sworn in, he tried, unsuccessfully, to unilaterally rescind the sanctions. Incredibly, his administration continues to delay the implementation, even in the face of increasing congressional pressure to take action.
7. Trump has tried to obstruct all investigations into the allegations of collusion. He let Flynn lie to the FBI. He asked the FBI director, James Comey, to “let it go.” The president then fired Comey because he refused to do so. Trump also pressured senior Senate Republicans to end their inquiries. Meanwhile, the president continues to undermine the investigation by publicly deriding the investigators, the FBI, and even his own attorney-general (for not stopping it).
These seven facts give us much needed solid ground to stand on. And when we do, is it possible to conclude the Trump campaign didn’t collude with Moscow? The evidence of guilt, when considered together, is overwhelming. Ironically, all this evidence, dripping out day after day after day, is also inuring us to the enormity of what happened: The president of the United States conspired with the Kremlin to win the White House.
 Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said, New York Times, July 11, 2017
 Donald Trump Jr. asked Russian lawyer for info on Clinton Foundation, NBC News, Dec 6, 2017
 Donald Trump Jr. was told campaign meeting would be with ‘Russian government attorney,’ according to emails, Washington Post, July 11, 2017
 George Papadopoulos emailed powerful Trump campaign figures about Russian contacts, ABC News, October 31, 2017
 “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”, Director of National Intelligence, 6 January 2017
 Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House, Washington Post, December 9 2016
 House Intelligence Committee Releases Incendiary Russian Social Media Ads, New York Times, November 1 2017
 DHS alerts states targeted by election-hacking attempts, CNN, September 22, 2017
 Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security, Dept of Homeland Security, October 7, 2016
 C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed, New York Times, April 6 2017
 Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault, Washington Post, June 23, 2017
 Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer, Washington Post, July 31 2017
 All the known times the Trump campaign met with Russians, Washington Post, November 13 2017
 Flynn Said Russian Sanctions Would Be ‘Ripped Up,’ Whistle-Blower Says, New York Times, December 6 2017
 How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short, Yahoo News, June 1 2017
 Congress Braces for Russia Sanctions Face-Off With White House as New Deadline Looms, The Daily Beast, November 24 2017
 WH lawyer told Trump that Flynn misled FBI and Pence, CNN, December 4 2017
 Trump Interview With Lester Holt: President Asked Comey If He Was Under Investigation, NBC News, May 11 2017
 Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry, New York Times, November 30, 2017