The official Trump administration line used to be that no member of the campaign had any contact with Russia. Mike Pence: “Of course not. Why would there be any contact?” Kellyanne Conway: “Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.” Conway today has a new standard:
The goalposts have definitely been moved here. After having heatedly denied any contact with Russians, it’s now insufficient to demonstrate that contact took place. Even demonstrating that collusion took place isn’t enough. The evidence has to be “hard” and the collusion must be “systemic, sustained,” and “furtive.”
Producing evidence that satisfies all these new conditions is definitely going to be tough. Hard evidence of systemic, furtive collusion? If it only lasted a short time, then it’s not “sustained.” Hard evidence of sustained, furtive collusion? Sorry, if only some members of Trump’s campaign were involved, then it isn’t “systemic.”
Of course “furtive” is the real trick. Remember when the New York Times discovered emails of a Trump campaign meeting held on the specific promise of collusion with Russia? Donald Trump Jr. hastily tweeted the emails, and the Trump administration hailed him for his “transparency.” So, really, whatever evidence comes to light, Trump’s people can just admit to anything they’re caught on, and then it isn’t furtive any more.