NBC’s Chuck Todd Connects 'the Dots’ of ‘Growing Evidence’ of Collusion

NBC’s Chuck Todd took a firm stand during Sunday’s Meet the Press as he pushed accusations that Trump’s campaign was colluding with the Russian government. “Connecting the dots between the Trump campaign and Russia,” he declared during his opening tease, “The growing evidence of the Trump-Russia connection threatens to consume the opening months of Donald Trump's presidency.” Through all of his hyperbole, Todd failed to mention that there is no evidence of such collusion.

Todd’s entire show was based on the presumption that members of Trump’s campaign are working on behalf of the Russian government. After letting The New York Times’ Tom Friedman go on a tirade against the President for his early morning tweets about possibly being wiretapped at Trump Tower and Russia’s joy over the situation, The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel put both of them in their place.

No evidence. There's no evidence. I mean, this is just-- I heard Chuck Schumer suggest exactly what he did, that we know that this is the case,” she told them off:

Especially this recent discussion about Jeff Session which is the kind of height of the ludicrousness of this, okay? If Jeff Sessions really was a mole working for the Russian government he probably would have found a better place to have met with them than his public Senate office surrounded by his aides. So the meetings are not necessarily what matter. They don't prove anything.

The NBC moderator seemed taken aback by his panelists’ candor. “They do have this pattern of “oh, yeah, I forgot I had this meeting,’” he tried to argue while talking over Strassel. But Strassel shot back, noting, “As many in Washington have suddenly forgot, Mr. Schumer, for instance about meeting with Russian ambassadors.” And it wasn’t just Schumer.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill lied to the public when she claimed on Twitter “I’ve been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years. No call or meeting w/ Russian ambassador. Ever.” In fact, the liberally bias PolitiFact found that “McCaskill’s own tweets show that she has had an in-person group meeting, as well as a phone call, with the Russian ambassador in the past four years,” and gave her a “false” rating.

It seemed as though Todd couldn’t wrap his mind around the hypocrisy, as he openly wondered: “You don't think there is a difference between those two?” The American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka poked fun at Todd for his ridiculousness in thinking Senators don’t forget meetings, quipping, “You don’t know Senators if you’re saying that.”

The loony Friedman chimed in again and argued: “that there’s no evidence, that's why we need a special prosecutor or an independent commission to get to the bottom of it and we need to see Trump's tax returns.” His reasoning makes almost no sense. If the FBI’s investigation has so far (after many months) yielded no evidence, then what is there for a special prosecutor to find?

Strassel explained why Friedman’s demand of a special prosecutor was a bad idea, saying: “Their goal is to get someone in the end and they will follow any rabbit hole that they can go until they're not even investigating the thing that they began with.” She also made the case that a commission could do a much better job.

As evidence of how far Todd wanted to push the idea of Russia collusion, he also included Cornell Belcher, a former pollster for Obama on the panel. “There is an awful lot of smoke here for there not to be a fire,” he asserted, “The idea that I'll forget about a meeting with Russians when there are news stories every day coming out about how Russia has actually tried to influence what's happening in our country. It’s kind of breathtaking.” This line of argument still ignores that fact that Democratic members of Congress are forgetting they have met with the Russian ambassador while all of this story is in the news.

Give that the FBI’s months-long investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has yielded no fruit at all, it’s very premature for NBC and Todd to dedicate a whole show to the idea that it’s true. So far, all the information we have about these alleged connections seems to have been coming from those with close ties to the investigation. And those leaks has even said that they have found no connections. It just exposes who the media is cherry-picking what facts they want to chase.

Todd may have set out to “connect the dots,” but it seems as though he’s ignoring the numbers provided and creating his own picture. 

Transcript below: 

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NBC
Meet the Press
March 5, 2017
10:56:25 AM Eastern

CHUCK TODD: I was just going to say: It doesn't matter what you think of their intentions was, look at our country right now.

DANIELLE PLETKA: What the Russian intentions are and what happened during the election are two very different things. It's not just the Russians who want to interfere in our election. Lots of countries want to interfere in our elections, lots have historically tried. Remember the Chinese and Al Gore? That’s not the point. The point is: Was there someone inside the Trump campaign who was working with them and did the President know about that and were they successful? And I think on those latter two questions we have no idea.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: No evidence. There's no evidence. I mean, this is just-- I heard Chuck Schumer suggest exactly what he did, that we know that this is the case. Look, there's nothing there. Especially this recent discussion about Jeff Session which is the kind of height of the ludicrousness of this, okay? If Jeff Sessions really was a mole working for the Russian government he probably would have found a better place to have met with them than his public Senate office surrounded by his aides. So the meetings are not necessarily what matter. They don't prove anything. The question is--

TODD [Cutting off Strassel]: The one thing I will say this on these meetings

STRASSEL: Is there any substance?

TODD: They do have this pattern of “oh, yeah, I forgot I had this meeting.” I mean—

STRASSEL: As many in Washington have suddenly forgot, Mr. Schumer, for instance about meeting with Russian ambassadors.

[Crosstalk]

TODD: But it’s a difference there wouldn’t you say?

STRASSEL: I don’t know.

TODD: You don't think there is a difference between those two?

STRASSEL: No. If you headed to the Republican National Convention and a bunch of ambassadors walk up to you afterward, do you remember every single person that you met?

TODD: That I get, meeting in your office is a different story.

PLETKA: You don’t know Senators if you’re saying that.

TODD: No. no I understand that, but after the Mike Flynn situation do you not try to correct the record?

TOM FRIEDMAN: I agree that there’s no evidence, that's why we need a special prosecutor or an independent commission to get to the bottom of it and we need to see Trump's tax returns.

CORNELL BELCHER: But look, there is an awful lot of smoke here for there not to be a fire, right? And you've had three people who already resigned. The idea that I'll forget about a meeting with Russians when there are news stories every day coming out about how Russia has actually tried to influence what's happening in our country. It’s kind of breathtaking. And I've got to side with Marco Rubio on this. Look, he talked about he wasn't going to talk about it because he understood that Russians are trying to influence our election and are going to continue to try to do something about it. This is a threat to our country, right? And the idea that Russia is different from other countries. Russia is very different from other countries cause we have a history of the cold war with Russia, that apparently we thought was over cause we have a short history lesson, sort of, view of the world. And Russia—Putin thought of it as a pause. And clearly, they are trying to influence and dominate the world in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.

STRASSEL: Special prosecutor is not a good idea and here’s why: Special prosecutors, their goal is to get someone in the end and they will follow any rabbit hole that they can go until they're not even investigating the thing that they began with.

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