Podesta's think tank declares 'clear collusion' between Trump campaign, Russia

A new report released by a D.C. think tank closely aligned with top Democrats claims there was “clear collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, calling it “the biggest political scandal in American history.”

The Center for American Progress (CAP), the left-leaning group formerly run by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta, released the report from its Moscow Project on Wednesday.

The almost 40-page document, titled “Russiagate: The Depth of Collusion,” was authored by former State Department official and now-CAP senior fellow Max Bergmann, who catalogued what he described as the “depth and breadth” of connections between “Trump associates and Kremlin-connected figures.”

Bergmann’s report links out to multiple news reports and quotes from the Trump administration. He acknowledged there wasn’t “new” information in the report, describing it as a “comprehensive look” at reports and public testimony.

“When you put them [reports] together in a comprehensive way, it becomes quite obvious and clear that there was collusion,” Bergmann said, citing reports of “meetings and contacts” that occurred with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Carter Page.

Throughout the report, Bergmann claims that there were “two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: the Trump campaign and the Russian campaign,” citing Trump associates' communications with Russian officials.

The White House, though, has adamantly denied that any of the known meetings and contacts involving associates and Russian officials represent collusion. Rather, the Trump White House has tried to turn the table on Democrats, highlighting Clinton connections to Moscow including a high-dollar speech Bill Clinton delivered in Russia. They’ve also zeroed in on a reported meeting between a DNC consultant and Ukrainian officials last year where campaign issues reportedly were discussed.

Podesta, too, allegedly has Russia ties of his own. In 2011, a company, Joule Unlimited, reportedly announced Podesta’s appointment to its board. Months later, a Kremlin-backed investment firm reportedly pumped $35 million into Joule.

Last month, in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Podesta was asked why he failed to disclose his role in the company prior to working as a counselor for then-President Barack Obama.

“Maria, that’s not true. I fully disclosed and was compliant,” Podesta told Bartiromo. But according to his financial disclosure forms, Podesta reportedly only listed two of the three entities that made up Joule Unlimited, and did not disclose his presence on the board.

In his report, Bergmann repeatedly refered to the controversial June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and her associates, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. The meeting was billed to Trump Jr. as one to discuss Russian adoption – and also supposedly damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

The report did not refer to last week’s Senate testimony where a witness, Bill Browder, suggested the same company behind an infamous anti-Trump dossier also was involved in a Russian government-linked “smear campaign” against him over his sanctions efforts.

When asked about that testimony, Bergmann acknowledged Browder’s testimony was “amazing” but said “the report doesn’t even talk about the dossier, it was too long.”