FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace tells Democratic Senator Chris Coons that continued talk of collusion between Trump and Russia has a whiff of McCarthyism. He asked if the point of this continued talk, that has gone on for months, is an attempt to derail Trump's agenda.
Coons would concede to Wallace that he has "no hard evidence of collusion."
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Why would you suggest in that clip that I just played for Senator Cotton that there are FBI transcripts that show, and I want to get your words, "provide very critical insights" in the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): What I was trying to make clear, Chris, and I appreciate a chance to restate this, is that I don't have, and I don't know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But I believe that our intelligence community, which is the most sophisticated in the world, has intercepts, has raw intelligence, and it's important that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an investigation be given access to those intercepts, to transcripts of those intercepts, so that they can get to the bottom of this.
The American people, Chris, want us to move forward. They want us to work together in Washington and it's important for us to remember that the Russians are our adversaries. Republicans and Democrats, we have different political agendas, different political views, but we can and should work together to make sure that what intelligence there is, is gotten access to by the intelligence committee.
And if they’re stonewalled or blocked, that there's a special prosecutor appointed. That’s the point I was trying to make.
WALLACE: Senator, I don't think anybody would object to that. But that isn't quite what you said on Friday. I want to replay the clip of what you said on Friday, which is different. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COONS: There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin were cooperating, with colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, we’re talking here about the president of the United States. Isn't there more than a whiff of McCarthyism for you as a U.S. senator to say there are transcripts out there that provide insight into whether or not there was collusion, but you don't even know whether they exist?
COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, what I was trying to encourage was that the intelligence committee be given access to the raw intelligence. I’ve been told now that that's going to happen this coming week and I think that's positive and productive.
Last week on the floor of the Senate, I joined Republican Senator Marco Rubio in a joint speech to talk about Russian interference, Russia as our adversary and the importance of us working together. At the end of speech, Senator Rubio said, "I won't be part of a witch hunt, and it won’t be part of a cover-up."
So, to the extent of those comments, they might be some way misinterpreted as leading to sort of a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that. That's not what I was trying to do.
What I was trying to do, and I think it's important, is to draw the American people to what joins us in common, which is the need for us to get to the bottom of this, to get access to what intelligence there is. I am confident that intelligence exists that is relevant to this question. Not that says there is collusion, and proof of it, that's not what I was trying to say.
WALLACE: I want to ask --
COONS: Last week there were -- Chris, last week, there were senior Republicans and President Trump in previous weeks saying there's nothing here. There's nothing to look at. And this was just after Senator Sessions was revealed to either have misspoken or misrepresented his meetings with the Russian ambassador. I think it's in all of our interest for this to be investigated fully, fairly and promptly and for what intelligence exists. And I’m confident that such intelligence exists --
WALLACE: So, Senator --
COONS: -- be made available to the intelligence committee.
WALLACE: If I may, I want to talk about the broader story here. Do you have any evidence at this point, in this investigation has been going on for a long period of time. We know that the FBI and intelligence sources were looking at this at least in October, because that's when they all came out and said that the Russians were interfering.
Do you know of any hard evidence of collusion between what I call "Trump world" and the Russians to interfere in his presidential campaign? Not suspicions, not contacts, but evidence of collusion.
COONS: Chris, I have no hard evidence of collusion. I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump's financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials. And that's why I think it's important for us to get the bottom of this, so we are not still talking about this as an unresolved issue where we don't know the answer months and months from now.
WALLACE: But, sir, do you worry that this continued talk about this when we are months into this and there was no evidence of collusion, there's no evidence that any crime or anything untoward was committed -- do you worry that this continues to put this president under a cloud, continues to derail his agenda, or frankly, sir, is that precisely the point?
COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, I’m not the person who forced or coerced in any way Senator Sessions to answer incorrectly or falsely in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee --
WALLACE: We’re going to get to Sessions, I promise to get to Sessions in a moment.
Is the point here, to keep this White House from being able to do what it's trying to do by continuing, at this point, evidence-free debate about collusion with the Russians?
COONS: That's not my goal, Chris. I recently met with the new commerce secretary just on Thursday, to sit down with him and say I’m on the relevant subcommittee that appropriates the Commerce Department's funding. I would like to work with you and manufacturing policy. I think we can do things to get back to focusing on growing our economy and growing manufacturing jobs.
Chris, you know me, and I think you'd recognize that I’m someone who is willing to work across the aisle. My goal here is to make sure that we defend our democracy. It's outrageous to suggest that we shouldn't investigate thoroughly and fully what are credible allegations of Russian interference in our election.