House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) claimed that President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a secret deal, but admitted she doesn’t have evidence to back up her theory.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe found no conspiracy or coordination between Trump or his campaign and Russian actors, but some Democrats have continued promoting the Russia-Trump theory, including Waters.
Appearing on CNN’s “OutFront” on Dec. 16, Waters said she thinks Trump and Putin made a secret deal that would result in the president lifting sanctions on Russia. She was responding to host Erin Burnett, who noted that critics say Democrats have been attempting to impeach Trump since he was elected.
“I had done some research. I knew about his alignment with Putin. I knew about [Paul] Manafort and what the relationship was. And the fact that he had been sent there by Putin, in essence, to head up the president’s campaign. Because I believe, even though I don’t have the facts to prove it, I believe that Putin wanted to lift the sanctions,” Waters alleged.
“He’s always wanted to lift these sanctions that were placed on him because of his interfering and incursion into Crimea. So I believe that they wanted to elect President Trump. And Trump, I believe, agreed. I will always believe this, that he agreed that if he got elected, he would lift those sanctions. He would like to do it. He’s not been able to do it.”
Waters did not cite any stories or documents to back up for her allegations.
Burnett, the CNN host, did not challenge Waters on her unsubstantiated claims.
Waters continued unchallenged before making a misleading statement.
“This president will not condemn Putin for hacking into the Democratic National Committee. Will not condemn him for hacking into our election system. These are facts. Seventeen of our intelligence agencies have said this,” she said.
While the U.S. government has 17 intelligence agencies, only four—the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—were involved in an assessment (pdf) on Russian interference, released in January 2017.
Waters has in the past called for the president to be jailed and put into “solitary confinement” and urged people to harass anyone working in the upper levels of the Trump administration.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up and if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she said in California last year.