Donald Trump has endlessly claimed that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia regarding the 2016 election. He has even claimed that it has been proven that no collusion occurred. That is patently untrue. The Congressional "investigation" was little more than a whitewash, and we have yet to hear from the real investigation (being conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller).
Trump is hoping his repeated claims of no collusion, and his repeated efforts to brand the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt, will muddy the waters once Mueller's investigation is complete -- and have people doubting the results of that investigation.
We don't yet know what Mueller has discovered about collusion (or any other criminal activities), but I suspect it is a lot more than is publicly known. However, there is a fairly substantial body of knowledge known about the Trump campaigns dealings with Russia -- enough to realize that collusion is probably a reality.
Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei has published at Axios a list of what is publicly known. Here is their list:
- We know Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chair, has been indicted on 32 counts, including conspiracy and money laundering. We know he made millions off shady Russians and changed the Republican platform to the benefit of Russia.
- We know that the U.S. intelligence community concluded, in a report released in January 2017, that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton and with “a clear preference for ... Trump.”
- We know that in May 2016, Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat Russia had political dirt on Hillary. "About three weeks earlier," according to the N.Y. Times, "Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton."
- We know that in June 2016, Trump’s closest aides and family members met at Trump Tower with a shady group of Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary. The meeting was billed as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
- We know the Russian lawyer who helped set it up concealed her close ties to Putin government.
- We know that in July 2016, Trump said: "“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary] emails that are missing,” and urged their publication.
- We know that on Air Force One a year later, Trump helped his son, Don Jr., prepare a misleading statement about the meeting. We know top aides freaked out about this.
- We know Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting.
- We know Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and close campaign aide, lied to Vice President Pence and FBI about his Russia-related chats. We know he’s now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. We know Trump initially tried to protect Flynn with loyalty and fervency rarely shown by Trump to others.
- We know that during the transition, Jared Kushner spoke with the Russian ambassador "about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow." We know Kushner omittedprevious contacts with Russians on his disclosure forms.
- We know Trump initially lied about why he fired James Comey, later admitting he was canned because of the “Russia thing.”
- We know Michael Cohen was a close adviser and lawyer, the fixer and secret-keeper. We know Trump seethedwhen the FBI raided Cohen's office.
- We know that in January 2016, just before Republicans began voting, Michael Cohen tried to restart a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
- We know Mueller questioned a Russian oligarch tied to a firm that made payments to Cohen, who paid off a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Trump. [Updated]
- We know that oligarch was a bad enough dude that the Trump administration sanctioned him.