The Trump-Russia collusion narrative was given a boost over the weekend as the New York Times reported of a meeting between Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who enticed Don Jr. with “dirt” she supposedly had on Hillary Clinton. It was later revealed that there is email evidence supporting these accusations.
After learning of the report, Donald Trump Jr. decided to challenge the media by posting the emails on his Twitter account. He reportedly took such measures “in order to be totally transparent.”
In the emails, Goldstone claimed to know a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin who had damaging information on Hilary Clinton’s dealings with Russia. These emails appear to be evidence that members of the Trump campaign attempted to collude with someone they believed was connected to the Russian government to damage Hillary Clinton’s chance at winning the presidency. However, Natalia Veselnitskaya denied working for the Russian government in an interview with NBC News, and both parties have denied that any valuable information was exchanged at all.
In response to the accusations, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from the president:
“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency. Beyond that I’m going to have to refer everything beyond this matter to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel.”
Democrats now appear to have some leverage in saying that members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to rig the election in Trump’s favor. These emails clearly don’t prove these suspicions, but what these emails do prove is that Donald Trump Jr. knew what he was doing by going forward with this meeting.
It does not appear that Trump Jr. broke any laws, but the emails look really bad, especially at a time when the Trump-Russia collusion narrative was vanishing. Although, however bad this may look, it is certainly not the first time something like this has happened. Campaigns routinely conduct opposition research and look for damaging information about an opponent. In fact, Democrats are known for it. For example, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy reached out to the Soviet government to try to defeat Ronald Reagan in the 1984 Presidential Election. So if Trump associates did attempt to collude with Russia to shift the election towards Trump, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.
Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russian lawyer wasn’t a smart decision and could ultimately lead to other problems in the future, but it does not necessarily prove that the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia to win the election. The only thing this situation proves is that this Trump-Russia collusion narrative is never going to die.