So far, no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency – nothing.
But the FBI Director, James Comey, told a hushed committee room in Congress last week that this is precisely what his agents are investigating.
Stop to let that thought reverberate for a moment.
…”This is a three-headed operation,” said one former official, setting out the case, based on the intelligence: Firstly, hackers steal damaging emails from senior Democrats. Secondly, the stories based on this hacked information appear on Twitter and Facebook, posted by thousands of automated “bots”, then on Russia’s English-language outlets, RT and Sputnik, then right-wing US “news” sites such as Infowars and Breitbart, then Fox and the mainstream media. Thirdly, Russia downloads the online voter rolls.
…The voter rolls are said to fit into this because of “microtargeting”. Using email, Facebook and Twitter, political advertising can be tailored very precisely: individual messaging for individual voters.
…This would take co-operation with the Trump campaign, it is claimed.
…”If you need to ensure that white women in Pennsylvania don’t vote or independents get pissed in Michigan so they stay home: that’s voter suppression. You can figure what your target demographics and locations are from the voter rolls. Then you can use that to target your bot.”
This is the “big picture” some accuse the FBI of failing to see.
…The investigation, then, is into a range of possibilities: at one end, unwitting co-operation with Russia by members of the Trump campaign; at the other conscious “co-ordination”.
Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, said that if Trump’s aides knew of Russia’s plans, there should be charges of treason.
…With each new drip of information, option three – the chance that this is all a giant mistake, an improbable series of coincidences – seems further out of reach.
Increasingly, the American people are being asked to choose between two unpalatable versions of events: abuse of power by one president or treason that put another in the White House.