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unsubstantiated claims that the Russians had embarrassing videos that could be used to blackmail Mr. Similarly, Democrats in congress have been littering their Russia speeches with caveats like, "We do not know all the facts," and, "More information may well surface." They repeatedly refer to what they don't know as a way of talking about what they hope to find out.Members demand that Trump release his tax returns, for instance, so that Democrats can "clarify the specific financial interests that he has in Russia" – as if it is a given that he has such interests, or that such interests will be meaningful. Reporters should always be nervous when intelligence sources sell them stories. Their usual audiences are other agency heads, and the executive.

The notion that the president is either an agent or a useful idiot of the Russian state is so freely accepted in some quarters that Beck Bennett's shirtless representation of Putin palling with Alec Baldwin's Trump is already a no-questions-asked yuks routine for the urban smart set.

There was no evidence of that…CHUCK TODD: I understand that. This is the former Director of National Intelligence telling all of us that as of a.m.

A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. JAMES CLAPPER: This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government.

Reporters should be scared to their marrow by this story.

This is a high-wire act and it is a very long way down.

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