Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had real doubts about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as did I, but he concedes that the new information about Donald Jr’s meetings with (now) two Russians with ties to the government is fire, not merely smoke.
My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it. But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me.
The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there’s a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, the Kremlin is willing to share troves of incriminating documents from the Crown Prosecutor. (Error: Britain has a Crown Prosecutor. Russia has a Prosecutor General.)
Donald Jr. emails back. “I love it.” Fatal words.
Once you’ve said “I’m in,” it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were forwarded the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended.“It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” Donald Jr. told Sean Hannity. A shame? On the contrary, a stroke of luck. Had the lawyer real stuff to deliver, Donald Jr. and the others would be in far deeper legal trouble. It turned out to be incompetent collusion, amateur collusion, comically failed collusion. That does not erase the fact that three top Trump campaign officials were ready to play.
Their defense is patently absurd. Well sure, we broke into the Watergate hotel to get documents from our opponents, but we didn’t find anything we could use, so it’s totally not a robbery! Wrong answer. And frankly, I’m hardly convinced by their claim that nothing of substance was exchanged in that meeting. I mean, they’ve lied about every single other thing about it, why should anyone believe them about what was said as well?