Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) is fond of saying that President Donald Trump "colluded" with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. But during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the California Democrat admitted there has been no "actual evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
During Waters' appearance, MSNBC panelist and Huffington Post senior politics editor Sam Stein asked her what collusion means.
"Collusion is very specific," Stein explained. "It means that the Russian government or actors within were trying to elect Donald Trump. But I want to know what collusion means to you. That seems to be the standard by which you're saying he should be impeached?"
"Absolutely," Waters responded, saying that proving collusion is necessary to remove the president from office. She added that she believes the Trump campaign developed its winning campaign strategy in coordination with the Russian government.
"I really do believe that much of what you saw coming out of Trump's mouth was a play from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's playbook," Waters said.
She said campaign rhetoric like chants of "lock her up," targeted at Hillary Clinton, were "developed strategically with people from the Kremlin, with Putin."
"So you think the Russian government developed the talking points for the Trump campaign?" Stein asked.
"I think that there was a cooperation in developing strategy about how they could ensure that Hillary Clinton was not elected," Waters responded.
The congresswoman went on to claim that the Russian government had backed Trump in order to lift U.S. sanctions blocking drilling in the Arctic, a plan she said was specifically orchestrated by former Exxon Mobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Waters also suggested that the Putin government directly aided Trump's campaign because the Kremlin assumed the president would turn a blind eye to Russian expansionist policy in eastern Europe.
"But just to be clear, there has been no actual evidence yet," Stein said.
"No, it has not been," Waters responded.
"No, it has not," she continued. "And I want you to know, every time I've talked about impeachment, I've said we've got to connect the dots, we've got to get the facts, we've got to do the investigation. That is what leads to impeachment, and I also said that Trump will lead us right there."