(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
This is yet another story about Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) making a head-spinning change on a serious issue, acting as if no shift had occurred, and sliding by reporters who barely noticed or ignored it.
This time it’s the evolution of Coffman’s stance on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In response to a question on whether he supported an independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in the election, Coffman told 9News anchor Kyle Clark April 13 that he believed, based on government investigations, that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. “I think the Russian meddling part has been resolved,” Coffman told Clark, adding that he wasn’t sure about Trump’s involvement.
You’d have been surprised to hear Coffman say this on 9News if you were listening to Colorado Public Radio in January.
During an interview with CPR’s Ryan Warner, Coffman said Jan. 11 he didn’t yet accept that Russians had tried to influence the election, because intelligence reports are frequently politicized.
Sounding like Trump, Coffman maintained this stance even after Warner pointed out that multiple intelligence agencies had concluded the Russians had intervened.
“I can tell you as an Iraq war veteran, I think sometimes that the intelligence at the highest levels tends to be politicized to make a certain point,” Coffman told Warner, adding that he thought the allegations against the Russians should be investigated.
Just two days later, after attending a full house intelligence briefing on Russian interference, Coffman told the Voice of America something quite different. VOA reported:
“I think it’s a wake-up call beyond our security officials, when we look at what they’ve been doing in Europe and wake up to the fact that they’ve been doing it in America,” Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado, told reporters.
Coffman, one of a handful of Republicans who avoided associating with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election season, described House members’ reactions to the briefing as aggressive, with pointed questions about the role Russia had played in the election of Trump.
“I think they consider the United States an adversary and I hope the incoming administration recognizes that fact,” Coffman said.
Yet, in the ensuing months, Coffman never issued a wider statement about his new confidence in the intelligence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
In fact, in February, with Trump attacking the CIA and calling for an investigation into FBI leaks that led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Coffman joined the president and also called for an investigation of the FBI.
“The most dangerous place to be in Washington D.C. right now is between David Nunes or Adam Schiff and a TV camera,” Coffman told the crowd. “I’m not there yet for an independent council, but I’m moving there.”
It was after the April 13 town hall when Coffman told 9News’ Clark that the question of Russian meddling had been settled, but Coffman was still undecided on the independent commission.
The Obama Administration had done an investigation and “members of Congress, myself included, were briefed about Russian interference, which was predominately the hacking of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Podesta’s email accounts.”
When was this briefing? It doesn’t make much sense that intelligence briefings could have swayed Coffman, because it was no secret that there was a consensus in January on the issue of Russian interference, as Warner had pointed out to Coffman Jan. 11, when Coffman was broadly trashing the intelligence.
So, what changed between January and April that convinced Coffman of the Russian attacks on U.S. elections?
What happened to his concerns about top-level intelligence being routinely politicized to the extent of not being trustworthy?
What’s Coffman’s explanation for his radical shift on Russian interference? Was there insufficient evidence on the table in January when Coffman continued to doubt the intelligence? Did Trump’s stance against the CIA play a role? What happened?