The smoking gun that wasn’t.
Donald Trump Jr. fought back yesterday against the increasingly desperate shrieking from the tinfoil-hat Left by publishing online the emails that led to his innocuous campaign-season meeting a year ago with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
By releasing the chain of emails leading to the much ballyhooed but brief get-together at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Donald Jr. is hoping to dispel any notion that the Trump campaign somehow colluded with the Russian government to affect the outcome of the November 2016 election. (I wrote about the Trump Jr. meeting story yesterday here at FrontPage before the emails became available.)
The emails do not indicate any knowledge of Russian government wrongdoing, such as hacking, or Trump campaign involvement in such activities. Yet the mainstream media is going berserk, hyping the overheated ravings of leftist idiots like Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) whose disastrous performance in the vice presidential debate against Republican Mike Pence may have helped to sink the Democrat ticket last year.
Kaine accused Donald Trump Jr. of committing treason by agreeing to meet with Veselnitskaya. "We are now beyond obstruction of justice," Kaine said Tuesday. "This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason."
Of course, Kaine is no stranger to treason. He himself may have engaged in seditious activity in late January when he said Democrats would have to “fight in the streets” against the Trump administration.
And how quickly the Left forgets that the Ukrainian government took action to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign with nary a peep from left-wingers. As one media outlet reported:
The actions taken by government officials included disseminating “documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”
Meanwhile, the Left is trying to stigmatize and de-normalize everything Trump’s father does as president, pretending opposition research is something new and shady when it has been part of the electoral process ever since elections began. Nor is it illegal, immoral, or somehow unethical to “collude,” by which the Left means, communicate, with foreign nationals in conducting opposition research in connection with an election. The U.S. does have the First Amendment, after all. But all of this nonsense and misdirection is part of the Left’s campaign to delegitimize the Trump administration.
But honest left-wing law professor Jonathan Turley trashed an ethics lawyer for claiming that the Trump Jr.-Veselnitskaya meeting “borders on treason.”
“There is not a clear criminal act in such a meeting based on the information that we have,” Turley writes. “Moreover, it is not necessarily unprecedented.”
The president’s oldest son said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show yesterday that he didn’t bother his busy father with the particulars of what turned out to be a pointless meeting with Veselnitskaya.
"It was just a nothing,” the younger Donald said. “There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame."
Yesterday morning, Donald Jr. published what appears to be the complete email chain on Twitter through his @DonaldJTrumpJr account. He released a statement alongside the email chain, which reads:
To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016. The first email on June 3, 2016 was from Rob, who was relating a request from Emin, a person I know from the 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant near Moscow. Emin and his father have a very highly respected company in Moscow. The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act. To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue. As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was “the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it.”
According to the BBC, Goldstone is a Manchester, England-born former journalist who now heads Oui 2 Entertainment, which has worked with the Miss Universe competition that used to be owned by President Trump.
Using the subject line "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential[,]" the initial email from Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr. time-stamped June 3, 2016, 10:36 a.m., states:
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 [sic] documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and hear [sic] 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.
Goldstone’s assertion that the “very high level and sensitive information” comes as a result of the Russian government’s purported “support for Mr. Trump” is merely an unsubstantiated claim at this point. And even if it had been true that the Russian government was trying to help the Trump campaign, there is still no evidence that its efforts had any impact on the election, or that the campaign in any way collaborated with the Kremlin.
In the email, “Emin” refers to Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, an Azerbaijani singer-songwriter and businessman popular in Russia. Emin’s father is billionaire businessman Aras Agalarov. “Rhona” seems to refer Donald Sr.’s longtime assistant, Rhona Graff.
Russia is a not a monarchy so there is no such position as “Crown prosecutor” in that country. Crown prosecutors may be found representing the government in criminal trials in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other parts of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations. The expression in the email is likely a botched translation of the Russian words for the post of prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation, or more simply, attorney general. The current prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation is Yury Chaika, a position he has held since 2006.
Young Trump replies at 10:53 a.m., signing the email as “Don.”
Thanks Rob[.] I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I [should] 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?
Three days later, at 12:40 p.m. on June 6, Goldstone emails Donald Jr., writing:
Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day[.] Best to you and family[.] Rob Goldstone[.]
There are then five banal emails discussing times for the meeting, along with future telephone calls. Then, at 4:20 p.m. on June 7, Goldstone emails Trump Jr.:
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 [sic] aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you? I assume it would be at your office.
Then at 5:16 p.m. Donald Jr. replies with, “How about 3 at our offices? Thanks[,] rob[.] [I] appreciate you helping set it up.”
Three minutes later Goldstone replies:
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.
At 6:14 p.m. Donald Jr. writes back to Goldstone, saying, “Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort[,] my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.”
A few more emails are exchanged and the meeting time on Thursday, June 9 is changed to 4 p.m.
On June 8, 2016, at 12:03 p.m., Trump Jr. emails then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, advising them that the “[m] eeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.”
The Hill newspaper described the disclosed documents as a “stunning chain of emails,” which no doubt it is to greenhorn journalists who don’t understand retail politics in this country. Moreover, Hillary Clinton was already under criminal investigation in the United States, so why would it be so hard to believe she was also under some kind investigation in Russia where the Clintons have had so many shady dealings?
To refuse the meeting would have been crazy, reckless, and irresponsible.
And it now appears that Goldstone was either fibbing about the information Natalia Veselnitskaya had in her possession or perhaps embellishing a bit to get her the meeting with Trump staffers.
Veselnitskaya told NBC News she had no connection to the Kremlin and met with Donald Trump Jr. to chat about Russian-American relations, not to divulge dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton,” she said. “It was never my intention to have that.”
When asked why the Trump campaign seemed to believe she had damaging information about Democrats, Veselnitskaya took a wild guess.
“It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted.”
She explained that she put together a package of information for one of her clients about a business run by a former citizen of the United States. She added the concern failed to pay taxes either in Russia or the U.S. and may have also given money to the Democratic National Committee.
Veselnitskaya said at the meeting Donald Jr. asked only one question.
“The question that I was asked was as follows: whether I had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the DNC were coming from inappropriate sources."
She said she had no such records and that "it was never my intention to collect any financial records to that end." She added she wanted to let people know about "the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act," and was hoping to testify about the sanctions statute before Congress.
"I never asked anybody for a particular meeting with Mr. Donald Trump Jr., or with anybody else," she said.
Trump Jr.’s new attorney, Alan Futerfas, said Monday “that Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed” in the meeting and called news reports “much ado about nothing.” He noted that Veselnitskaya, who had been a prosecutor 16 years ago, was no longer a government official.
No matter what happens the Left will keep attacking President Trump and his family members and campaign staff because that’s what they do.
In the Left’s rolling coup attempt against President Trump facts are irrelevant.