MSNBC contributor John Podhoretz agrees new evidence has emerged to suggest a link between Russian intelligence and President Donald Trump -- but he said there's still no smoking gun.
The conservative commentator said evidence showed Trump parroted Russian propaganda themes during the 2016 presidential campaign, although there's still no direct link between the Republican candidate and Kremlin intelligence.
“The information we’ve got last week (is) the first substantive narrative that suggests that something that started with Russian intelligence ended up coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth,” Podhoretz told "Morning Joe."
Trump associates Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi promoted themes that came out of emails stolen by Russian hackers, and the GOP nominee amplified those efforts on the campaign trail in the final weeks before the election.
“Now, that doesn’t mean, again, that Trump himself knew that the information had been gotten through the hacking of the DNC emails," Podhoretz said. "But it is, after all this time, a pathway between Trump through Stone to Russian intelligence.”
Podhoretz said the standard of proof needed to sway Trump's strongest supporters was impossibly high.
"I think any absence of an actual, you know, smoking gun charge that Trump was working in the service of Russian intelligence, the Trump base will believe this is a political witch hunt and that (Robert) Mueller is serving, you know, sort of the interests of the media, the interests of liberals," he said.
"There's some sense of which, assuming that Mueller cannot close the circle," Podhoretz added, "what you'll have is a pattern of everyone around him being nailed in some fashion for lying, for saying the wrong thing, for lying about the contacts with Russia, but Trump saying they are saying, I didn't do anything. I didn't do it. I had no part in this.' And without proof, you know, that is reasonable doubt, in my view."