Rep. Joaquín Castro (D., Texas) is closing in on something involving the investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. It's just not entirely clear what that is.
Castro is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and he has seen a brighter spotlight as a vocal opponent of the Trump administration. On March 20, he used some of his questioning time of NSA Director Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey to see if they could verify inflammatory claims made in a former British intelligence official's dossier on Trump.
The file, which BuzzFeed reported in January and acknowledged was "unverified" and full of errors, alleged that the Russians had compromising information about Trump, such as one salacious rumor involving prostitutes and urination.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told NBC's "Meet the Press" on March 5 that the dossier's claims could not be corroborated.
Castro, knowing that its merits were in doubt by a former Obama administration official, nevertheless dug right in on the dossier with Comey:
CASTRO: Director, can you describe to the American people the Russian concept of kompromat?
COMEY: It's a technique that they use to gather information on people that may be embarrassing or humiliating, and using it to coerce cooperation.
CASTRO: In your career, have you known instances where that has been successfully leveraged?
COMEY: Yes, I believe our counter-intelligence division has encountered it a number of times.
CASTRO: Does that include private places, including places such as hotels that are wired for audio and video?
COMEY: I don't think I remember enough about the particulars to say, but in theory, sure.
In another exchange with Rogers, the Democrat concluded that the dossier had at least some merit regarding Trump's alleged ties to Russia:
CASTRO: Thank you. So, is it likely that the Kremlin would accept or actively trade favors or other valuable or sensitive information, intelligence from foreign figures about Russian oligarchs or wealthy businessmen living abroad?
ROGERS: Is it possible? Yes, but again, it depends on the particulars of the situation. I don't know that I would make a flat statement—
CASTRO: But it's certainly a possibility.
ROGERS: It's a possibility.
CASTRO: OK. Well, the dossier definitely seems right on these points. A quid pro quo relationship seems to exist between the Trump campaign and Putin's Russia.
In an interview Tuesday on CNN, Castro said that based on evidence he has seen in the investigation, associates of Trump would go to jail. Pressed for details on that morsel by host Wolf Blitzer, he kept things vague:
BLITZER: Have you seen any hard evidence of collusion yet?
CASTRO: I guess I would say this, that my impression is, I wouldn't be surprised, after all of this is said and done, that some people end up in jail.
BLITZER: Really? And how high does that go and your suspicion, that's all we can call it right now.
CASTRO: Well, that's yet to be determined.
BLITZER: But you think some people are going to wind up in jail. Not just one individual, but people, plural, is that what you're saying?
CASTRO: That's my impression, yes.
BLITZER: You want to elaborate a little bit on that, give us a little bit more? Because that's obviously a very intriguing statement.
CASTRO: I wish I could, but I can't at this time.
BLITZER: But at this point, you're confident that at least some Trump associates will wind up in jail.
CASTRO: If I were betting, I would say yes.
BLITZER: Including some who are working in the new administration or people who worked or advised the president during the campaign and maybe during the transition?
CASTRO: As you can imagine, Wolf, I'll have to comment on that later. But again, if somebody asked me my impression, I would—my impression is that people will probably be charged, and I think people will probably go to jail.
BLITZER: Without sharing the evidence because I know it's classified, but do you believe there is enough evidence already, evidence that you've seen that would justify someone going to jail or some people going to jail?
CASTRO: If the claims hold up, most likely.
BLITZER: Really? All right. Well, that's pretty shocking to hear that.
Castro has so far not provided evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But he seems intent on generating headlines with charged rhetoric.