One of the more interesting arguments put forward by defenders of President Donald Trump over the Russia affair is that in fact, Democrats are the ones who colluded with Russia — because they paid for the dossier on Trump/Russia links written by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who in turn relied on sources in Russia.
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told Chris Cuomo this argument is nonsense.
"Does the argument that, yeah, okay, you shouldn't have Russians giving you anything, and shouldn't have been paying Russians for information to amass a dossier, the the way Clinton did — do you see these as analogues?" asked Cuomo.
"Not at all, Chris. There's no equivalence between the two examples," said McCabe. "To openly invite foreign intelligence officers, representatives from a hostile foreign government, to steal information, to acquire opposition research in any way, in any illegal way they might do that is one thing. For a campaign to hire a law firm, an American law firm, who then turns around and hires an American research company, who then contracts out with a foreign individual, that is not illegal. Campaigns are allowed to hire individuals, foreign individuals, and to pay those individuals for the services that they provide."
Additionally, McCabe argued, the way the Steele dossier was compiled differed from the Trump team's contacts with Russia in a very significant way: the foreign contacts in question did not secretly feed the information into campaign talking points, but passed it along directly to the FBI for law enforcement purposes.
"I would add, too, Chris that in the example of the Clinton campaign, it was that very foreign individual who stepped forward and provided the information he had collected to the FBI, simply because he was so troubled by what he was seeing," said McCabe. "So it's odd that a foreign individual involved in the campaign process was familiar enough with the threat and with the concerns that that information posed that he stepped forward and provided it to the FBI."
"Not something, obviously, that the president and his staff would be willing to do," added McCabe.