“It’s pretty clear” President Donald Trump is an agent of Russia, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees told PBS on Friday.
In an interview on “Firing Line,” Host Margaret Hoover played video clips of Rep. Swalwell making the claim on MSNBC to Chris Matthews, and accusing Trump of colluding with Russia to Anderson Cooper on CNN and of treason on Fox News to Tucker Carlson. In her interview, Hoover repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, pressed Rep. Swalwell to provide hard evidence of his claim that Trump is a Russian agent.
When Hoover noted that Trump passed sanctions on Russia, Rep. Swalwell replied that, even though Trump did, he did it “begrudgingly,” not willingly.
“I’m still not hearing the evidence that he’s an agent of Russia,” Hoover said, to which Rep. Swalwell responded that the evidence is obvious:
PBS/Hoover: “At what point do you draw the line and not accuse the president of the United States without any evidence of being an agent of Russia?”
Rep. Swalwell: “Yeah. He’s betrayed our country, and I don’t say that lightly. I worked as a prosecutor for seven years, and I…”
PBS/Hoover: “But betraying the country — By the way, we want evidence before you say that, but you said an agent of Russia.”
Rep. Swalwell: “Yeah. He works on their behalf. Since he met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July, where he took the interpreter’s notes or hasn’t told any U.S. official what they discussed, he has taken us out of Syria, which is a top priority of Russia. He sought to diminish or pull out the U.S. from NATO. And he’s easing sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s friends, who are under investigation…
PBS/Hoover: “But, he did pass sanctions against Russia. He has armed the Ukraine. He has killed 200 Russians in Syria. I mean, those aren’t the actions of an agent of Russia, either.”
Rep. Swalwell: “He signed, I think, you know, begrudgingly, sanctions against Russia after Congress and people expressed concern and he got backed into it. But as soon as he could, he has pulled those away.”
PBS/Hoover: “What makes him an agent of Russia, though?”
Rep. Swalwell: “During the campaign, the Russians were offering — And we saw this in our investigation, and free-press reporting showed this. They were offering their assistance to help him. They were reaching out, you know, whether it was the Trump Tower meeting, whether it was, you know, the number of subject-line e-mails we saw that said, you know, ‘Russia, Putin, Trump — let’s connect them,’ whether it was trying to build a Trump Tower, and Felix Sater, a Russian-American who worked for President Trump saying, ‘If we connect Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, we can engineer this and make our boy president.’
“He never turned down those offers. In fact, after it was revealed that the Russians were attacking our democracy, he went to a press conference and said, ‘Russia, keep doing it,’ essentially.”
PBS/Hoover: “We’re familiar with that sequence of events.”
Rep. Swawell: “And that’s evidence. That’s evidence.”
PBS/Hoover: “No, but as a prosecutor, that wouldn’t be evidence in court. I mean, as a prosecutor, you know the difference between hard evidence and circumstantial evidence.”
Rep. Swalwell: “I think an admission by a defendant is the most powerful evidence, and saying — asking somebody to continue to commit a crime, after they’ve already committed a crime — I mean, that is eagerness to collude. I don’t know what else to call it. And then I think you have consciousness of guilt by all of these follow-up cover-up actions.
“Again, people only tell someone else to lie, people only lie themselves, people only obstruct justice if they’re afraid of what the underlying truth would reveal.”
PBS/Hoover: “I’m still not hearing the evidence that he’s an agent of Russia.”
Rep. Swalwell: “Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear. It’s almost hiding in plain sight.”