On March 16, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell said at an event sponsored by the Cipher Brief, an intelligence website, that he had seen no evidence that anyone with the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
“On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all,” Morell said.
But Morell was not the acting director of the CIA in 2015 and 2016, when the Russian campaign to influence the election is alleged to have occurred. In fact, he was most recently the acting director of the CIA in March 2013. In November 2013, Morell joined Beacon Global Strategies as a senior counselor.
As for Coons, Spicer misrepresented the senator’s quote.
“I have no hard evidence of collusion,” Coons said on “Fox News Sunday” on March 5 (emphasis on hard is ours, as that word was omitted by Spicer). “I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump’s financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials, and that’s why I think it’s important for us to get to the bottom of this so that we’re not still talking about this as an unresolved issue where we don’t know the answer months and months from now.”
In a press release, Coons said Spicer had “blatantly mischaracterized” his comments.
Coons, press release, March 20: For Mr. Spicer’s sake, let me be clear once again: Though I have not seen specific evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests collusion may have occurred, including confirmation just this morning that the FBI is investigating potential collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.
In his press briefing, Spicer went on to say that every Republican and Democrat who had been briefed on the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians has concluded “that there is no collusion and that that’s over.”