Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correpondent for Yahoo News, is unable to find any real proof of Trump-Russia collusion based on the latest court filings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he appeared on CNN’s December 8 Smerconish show, hosted by Michael Smerconish.
But first, Isikoff agreed with Smerconish on the appearance of Democratic hypocrisy on impeaching over sex. Rep. Jerrold Nadler “eloquently” argued Clinton shouldn’t be impeached for lying to conceal an affair with an intern. So how is Nadler going to impeach using sketchy witnesses like Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Michael, you’re the perfect guest to have on this day because you did so much ground-breaking reporting 20 years ago. Wasn’t the takeaway then that the Senate was not about to allow impeachment to convict when the underlying matter was about sex and if that’s true, these facts are similarly described, no?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, yes, I think that’s an excellent point. Look, it is eye-popping to see in a federal sentencing memorandum by the Southern District of New York and an assertion that the President of the United States directed illegal payments through his personal lawyer to a porn star and a Playboy model.
With that said, what flows from that? As you pointed out, standard DOJ policy is you can’t indict a sitting president. The Southern District is bound by that assuming they could ever get the green light from higher ups at the Justice Department, whoever they might be. So then the alternative remedy would be an impeachment proceeding by the Congress.
Think of what that would look like for a moment. Who are your witnesses? Stormy Daniels accompanied by Michael Avenatti, David Pecker of the “The National Enquirer,” Karen McDougal. Does Jerry Nadler who so eloquently said concealment of a private sexual affair should not be grounds for impeachment want to hold an impeachment hearing in the House with that set of witnesses. You know bolstered by Michael Cohen who the Southern District has now said, even to this day is not being truthful about his criminal conduct.
It’s not the makings for the kinds of impeachment proceedings that I think Jerry Nadler would like to have. So there’s a big question mark about where that goes. Now there’s lots of other stuff in these – in these memos that do get closer to the core Russia investigation. A lot of question marks about them as well but I think that’s probably better where people in the House and the Senate and the rest of us should be focused on.
And since we learned from loud proclamations of the Democrats that matters of sex is not an impeachable offense, what about the heart of the matter that Mueller is supposedly investigating, namely Trump-Russia collusion?
SMERCONISH: OK, so and I agree with everything you’ve just offered in terms of analysis as you read the tea leaves and fill in the blanks, what did you find most significant potentially about collusion in those filings yesterday?
ISIKOFF: You know they don’t get us to collusion per se, but there are sort of intriguing thread lines there. In the case of Cohen, the fact that – you know this additional contact from the fall of 2017 from a Russian national claiming to have — connections to the Kremlin offering synergy. My understanding is that’s this Olympic weightlifter who contacted Cohen. That’s additional evidence of Russian efforts to reach out and cultivate the Trump campaign.
That’s important in terms of the larger narrative of the Russians trying to get their hooks into the Trump campaign. Does it get us to collusion? It’s not clear because it’s not clear that there was any response from Cohen on that. So that’s one and then there’s also the question of what contacts Cohen had with the Trump team and the White House before he gave his false testimony about the Trump Tower meeting.
“It’s not clear because it’s not clear.” That’s the big takeaway from Isikoff’s struggle which you can actually