Following a two-year investigation that included hundreds of interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry is reportedly starting to wind down after finding “no direct evidence” of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to NBC News.
Democrats and Republicans already have different conclusions about what that actually means, but here’s what a former federal prosecutor says it means: Nothing. Former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg told MSNBC’s Katy Tur Tuesday that it’s exceedingly rare to find “direct evidence” of conspiracy. “In fact, in the dozens and dozens of cases I tried to a jury, only once ever did I have direct evidence of a conspiracy,” Rosenberg said. “You almost never see that.”
Rosenberg also noted that circumstantial evidence is “every bit as important” as direct evidence. “So to say that there’s no direct evidence of a conspiracy is really not all that damning on the facts of the case,” he added.
Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr is certainly handing Trump a straw to grasp at when he says, “We don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” But Democrats on the panel also strongly disagree with that assessment of the evidence.
“There’s never been a campaign in American history … [where] people affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did,” noted the ranking member of the panel, Sen. Mark Warner.
Besides, the Senate panel never actually set out to find criminal wrongdoing—that’s the charge of special counsel Robert Mueller.
As one Democratic aide told NBC, “We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.’”