The latest in the growing list of ‘smoking gun evidence’ of the Russia Collusion Theory was unearthed by the New York Times over the weekend when it dropped this story which outlined a June 2016 meeting in which Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manfort and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. The article was titled ‘Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign.’ The next day, a follow up article, ‘Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton,’ focused further on the premise under which that meeting was conducted, which was the potential divulgence by a Russian national of information damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Obviously this narrative, as described by the NYT, sounds bad. For months, the left, in conjunction with their allies on the establishment right, have promoted the Russian Collusion Theory, the idea that the Russian government colluded with the Trump campaign to obtain and disseminate emails from John Podesta and the DNC through Wikileaks. In this regard, the DJT Jr. meeting is a possible smoking gun because it contains the elements ‘emails,’ ‘members of the Trump campaign,’ and ‘Russians.’ However, a sober look at the facts, and applying basic common sense and deductive reasoning will render this smoking gun as nothing of the sort. It will result in a bad week of press for DJT Jr. and nothing more. Quote me on that.
Given Don Jr. himself released the email chain regarding the meeting in question earlier today on Twitter, we can go through the events in chronological order, starting from the emails setting up the meeting, through to the NYT stories from the past couple days. The email chain was released as an image, and is in e-mail format. Thankfully, the kind lads at ZeroHedge have put the emails in simple text.
June 3, 2016, 10:36 a.m. From Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr.
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some officials documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and hear dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
June 3, 2016, 10:53 a.m. From Donald Trump Jr. to Rob Goldstone
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
It is extremely important to note that Rob Goldstone is an acquaintance of DJT Jr. He has been described in various media reports as a British publicist, music producer and former tabloid reporter. The connection between Trump and Goldstone is through their work during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant, and a Russian pop star (Emin Agalarov) whose father (Aras) is a man who President Donald Trump has done business with in the past. Goldstone is understood to represent the younger Agalarov.
These side details are important because speaks to the potential state of mind of DJT Jr. upon seeing this email in his inbox. It wasn’t some random Russian guy on the internet trying to reach out to Trump. It wasn’t even a Russian. It was a British friend of Trump, who had connections to Trump allies. It was essentially a friend saying ‘hey man, I have some information about Hillary Clinton doing illegal things. It’ll probably help your dad.’ Under no circumstances would any reasonable person expect DJT to ignore that given the explosiveness of such claims AND the ‘trusted’ source it was coming from.
Of course, the Anti-Trump Coalition I described earlier has been salivating all day over that first email from Goldstone, in particular the line ‘This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’ In that line, the Coalition feels there is evidence that buttresses the Russia Collusion Theory. But the order of events are as follows, according to Goldstone:
- The ‘Crown prosecutor of Russia’ wants to provide Trump with dirt on HRC
- He goes through a former Trump business partner to get the information to Trump
- Said business partner goes through his son, and in turn his publicist to get to Trump’s son
Even if we believe that the Russian government attempted to interfere in the election , the fact of the matter is that in this email Goldstone is essentially relaying fourth-hand information of the existence of this specific dirt on HRC. The idea that Goldstone, a publicist/music producer/former tabloid reporter, would be able to speak to the sensitivity of any information, only having fourth hand knowledge of it, is frankly laughable.
Furthermore, Trump never sought any of this out. It was brought to his attention by a friend, and he decided to follow up on it. There is nothing wrong, illegal or unethical about that.
The next few emails in the chain were Goldstone and DJT Jr. playing email-tag about getting in touch with Emin. The next most relevant email in the chain is as follows:
June 7, 2016, 4:20 p.m. From Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr.
Hope all is well
Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.
I believe you area aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
I assume it would be at your office.
June 7, 2016, 5:16 p.m. From Donald Trump Jr. to Rob Goldstone
How about 3 at our offices? Thanks rob appreciate you helping set it up.
June 7, 2016, 5:19 p.m. From Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr.
Perfect…I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3pm and introduce you etc. I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.
June 7, 2016, 18:14 From Donald Trump Jr. to Rob Goldstone
Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.
The rest of the email chain was more email-tag finalizing the time of the meeting.
Next, the meeting happened, with ‘The Russian government lawyer’ in question, Natalia Veselnitskay. In response to the NYT’s first account of the meeting, DJT Jr. released this statement:
It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.
I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.
Then, after the second NYT article which outlined the premise under which the meeting was set up, DJT Jr. released a second statement:
I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.
The Anti-Trump Coalition has pointed to these two statements as evidence of DJT Jr. changing his story, but the truth is that he merely gave more information in the second statement. The two statements are wholly consistent. From what has been reported of the meeting, Veselnitskay, once she got into the meeting, spouted some rubbish to DJT, Manafort and Kushner and then got to what she really came to discuss – the Magnitsky Act, an American sanction placed on Russia.
The main sleight of hand the Anti-Trump Coalition is trying to pull with respect to DJT Jr.’s ‘conflicting’ statements is in regards the adoption aspect of the meeting. DJT Jr. initially said that the meeting was primarily about Russian adoptions. Then he later said it was about the Magnitsky Act, an American sanction against Russia.
The dot that is intentionally left out is that in retaliation to the Magnitsky Act, the Russian government banned the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Basic reasoning suggests that Veselnitskay was there to lobby for the Magnitsky Act to be neutered in some way, and perhaps made some sort of argument that Russian children are desperately being denied from a better life in America, and thus it would be great if the sanctions preventing Russian children from coming to America could be lifted.
Who knows. But it would seem that it is entirely accurate that adoptions were the ‘primary’ topic of discussion of the meeting itself, within the wider scope of the Magnitsky Act, as per DJT’s first statement. The reason that the meeting even happened at all, the idea that dirt against HRC would be divulged, was left out of DJT’s original statement. That is no crime, nor is it evidence of lying. Again, both of DJT Jr.’s statements are consistent.
So where does this leave us? It seems as though the meeting was arranged under false pretenses, and the real intention of the person who sought the meeting was to lobby for a smaller side issue. Who that someone really is remains unknown at this point. Veselnitskay may actually represent the Russian government, or she may represent a private interest who really wants to see the end of the Magnitsky Act. The Washington Posts leads us to believe it is the latter in this piece, which describes her efforts lobbying against sanctions with respect to private clients. In the WaPo’s outlining of her legal career, there is no mention of anything government related. The closest she comes is her firm having a client which is a state-owned company. But OMG KREMLIN LINKED, right?
Regardless, there was clearly an element of subterfuge involved here to manipulate the Trump camp to sit down. DJT Jr. having been duped isn’t a crime. But the fact that he was anticipating receiving damaging information about HRC from a foreign source has the Anti-Trump Coalition screaming TREASON!
I think this charge of impropriety on DJT Jr.s part is misplaced for a few reasons. For a start, owing to Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, it should be obvious that some element of potential dirt on her (the totality of which is enough to form a small mountain) could originate overseas. Furthermore, he was approached with the possibility of HRC dirt by another party. He didn’t seek it out. Mind you, we’re talking about dirt that never existed, even though DJT Jr. wasn’t to know that at the time.
If the dirt had existed, and for example had been mailed to Trump Tower anonymously, would the Trump Campaign have been wrong to have used it? Indeed, the NYT did use similar information it thought would damage the Trump campaign when it published a page from Donald Trump Sr.’s 1995 tax return which was mysteriously mailed to NYT offices. The NYT was not concerned with the legality of doing so, and was happy with the information that just fell in its lap.
It seems DJT Jr. similarly stood up and paid attention when the idea of dirt on HRC, which he classes as opposition research, was offered to him by a friend. The fact that this opposition research originated abroad is seemingly a sticking point for the Anti-Trump Coalition. If indeed receiving information against your political opponents form a foreign source is a huge crime, on the level of treason even, than the infamous Steele Dossier is also treasonous.
So too are the efforts of the DNC to enlist Ukrainian operatives to dig up dirt on Paul Manafort, efforts which ultimately resulted in his resignation from the Trump campaign. From Politico, which gives a lengthy account:
A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.
So here we have the DNC getting dirt on its opposition from a foreign source, and this dirt affecting the campaign by resulting in the resignation of the opposition campaign manager. Those confirmed actions are far more real than what DJT Jr. is being described as doing. Those confirmed actions are tangible evidence of colluding with a foreign power to affect a US election. By the newly established standards of the Anti-Trump Coalition, that was treasonous.
Yet none of these arguments are made in the mainstream media, and the reason is clearly political. While saying ‘The other side did it too!’ is not a very good argument to advance your cause, bringing up Ukraine is absolutely relevant here to highlight the blatant hypocrisy on display. The entire Russia Collusion Theory has been advanced by the Anti-Trump Coalition in order to stifle the Trump Agenda, which is devastating to its interests.
For example, the Anti-Trump Coalition is also anti-Russia, on cultural and geopolitical levels. Trump disagrees with this anti-Russia stance, at least overtly. To paint the Trump team as in bed with the Russians disarms Trump from pursuing détente. We in the public are consistently bombarded with terms and phrases such as ‘linked to the Kremlin’, and ‘the Russians,’ which have been used by the Anti-Trump Coalition as catchall phrases referring to seemingly anyone on the planet who knows where Russia is on a map.
The President was asked in February if he knew if anyone in his campaign had ‘met with Russians.’ President Trump responded that he wasn’t aware of any such meetings. That answer, according to the Anti-Trump Coalition, is now a bold faced lie, in light of this new revelation of DJT Jr. meeting with ‘the Russians.’
The reality is that the meeting likely had nothing to do with the Russian government, but was merely sold that way…by a British national who was in no position to know anything. The meeting actually ended up being with a Russian lawyer who perhaps tried to lobby for grievances against a US sanction (on behalf of whom we don’t know), and included the discussion of Russian adoptions. Given the actuality of the meeting was seemingly a big joke, with DJT Jr. getting played and wasting 30 minutes in the midst of a heated campaign, why would Trump Jr. have necessarily recalled this encounter as some sort of nefarious sounding ‘Russian meeting?’
Yet Veselnitskay is rebranded as a KREMLIN-LINKED LAWYER, and the meeting is spoken about as a MEETING WITH THE RUSSIANS.
The Russian ambassador to the United States having a meeting with Jeff Sessions, a normal aspect of business in his capacity as a Senator, becomes ‘meetings with Russians.’ Trump team members such as Jared Kushner or DJT Jr., meeting with people they know through their dealings in Manhattan real estate, like a Russian banker, becomes ‘meetings with Russians.’ The Trump family, as a result of their dealings with wealthy Russians buying and renting properties in Manhattan, becomes ‘the Trumps get a lot of their money from Russia.’
Quite frankly, it’s brilliant rebranding from the Anti-Trump Coalition. Playing on a historical American distrust of Russia – combined with the natural existence of dodgy-sounding, wealthy Russian oligarchs in the same line of business as the Kushners and Trumps – it has, through the use of language and persuasion, attempted to concoct a story about the Trump team being disloyal to America in favor of Russia and themselves. And Trump’s election victory, an event which is objectively a good thing for Russia (owing to Trump’s desire NOT to want war with Russia over Syria and/or Ukriane) has been retroactively declared as evidence of collusion by the Trump organization with Russia.
It’s rather disturbing when it is laid bare like this. The Anti-Trump Coalition would have you believe that President Trump not wanting aggro with Russia ultimately means that he must have been installed by Vladamir Putin himself. The righteous, moral, patriotic position, therefore, is to nuke Moscow for its insolence in resisting US Neoconservative foreign policy and Cultural Marxist social views. Unfortunately President Trump is being punished for not bending to the will of those neoconservatives and postmodernists on the left by having his election victory in November de-legitimized.
The positive for the Trump Administration is that in the main, the Anti-Trump Coalition is yet again pushing a weak argument. Being offered (nonexistent) documents implicating your political opponent in crimes is not illegal, or even immoral. It doesn’t show a ‘willingness to collude,’ as some have said. At worst it shows a political naivete on DJT Jr.’s part, which is ameliorated by the fact he was hearing out a friend.
Ultimately, the goal is to escalate the scrutiny into Trump, so as to gum up the works with respect to Trump moving his agenda forward. And here the Coalition has sustained a measure of success, at least on the surface. But it is likely to be short lived, given that the FBI and anyone else looking into the 2016 Election surely already knew about the meeting. Indeed, the original NYT cites ‘government records’ as the original source of the knowledge of the meeting. To date has done nothing about it, and it has not been mentioned in any capacity until now.
Thus the only benefit has been the nonstop, wall to wall publicizing of the meeting, and more specifically publicizing it within the Anti-Trump Coalition’s framework. The hope being that the frenzied news cycle would accrue to the Anti-Trump Coalition some political benefit. And to the likes of Maggie Haberman, Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, and others, the hopes of Woodward and Bernstein-esque enshrinement among journalists.
It remains to be seen if the public will care about these continued Russia stories. As I wrote earlier, the Russia Collusion Theory is an extension of the political campaigning which should have ended on November 8, 2016. And indeed before that date, the political campaigning consisted of one media-manufactured scandal after another. Trump’s election victory itself suggests that the public either saw through the lady who doth protest too much. Or maybe they didn’t see through it, and just didn’t care.
I suspect the same will be in order here. That is, the media overplaying its hand for the umpteenth time will cause the public to tune out, if they haven’t already, and even see Trump as a victim. His support will more or less stay the same, or even grow. There will be no one marching in the streets with pitchforks demanding his impeachment, outside of the crazies who have been doing so since November 9th. This will drive the Anti-Trump Coalition into further overdrive, which at some point will lead to a meltdown of all meltdowns. Who knows what form it will be in, but at this rate, it will be coming before we know it.