National Security & Defense

There Is Now Evidence That Senior Trump Officials Attempted to Collude With Russia

Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 2016 (Reuters photo: Mark Kauzlarich)
Donald Trump Jr.’s e-mails are damning.

Just hours ago, Donald Trump Jr. released one of the more astounding e-mail chains of the entire Russia controversy. The end result is that Americans may now be introduced to the term “attempted collusion.” Or, perhaps more accurately (based on present information), “failed collusion.”

In other words, there now exists evidence that senior members of the Trump campaign tried unsuccessfully to facilitate Russian government efforts to defeat Hillary Clinton.

First, some background. On July 8, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer with alleged “connections with the Kremlin.” In an initial response to the story, Trump Jr. said the meeting was “primarily about an adoption program.”

By the next day, the story shifted. The Times reported new details suggesting Trump Jr. took the meeting after being promised “damaging information” about Hillary Clinton.

In his own statement, Trump Jr. confirmed that he had entered the meeting seeking opposition research and claimed that the conversation had only moved to the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law that led Vladimir Putin to retaliate by blocking American adoptions of Russian children, after it “became clear” that the lawyer “had no meaningful information” on Clinton.

On July 10, the next shoe dropped. This time, the Times alleged Donald Jr. had received an e-mail beforehand making clear that the lawyer was acting as “part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.” The Times cited three anonymous sources who had “knowledge of the email.” Needless to say, because of recent bitter experience, I was skeptical. More anonymous sources? Let’s wait and see.

Well, we didn’t have to wait long. This morning, in two tweets, Donald Jr. released the entire e-mail chain. I urge you to read it all. The first tweet contained his statement and the end of the chain. The second tweet contained the key first e-mail. Here’s that e-mail, in full:

Indeed, that seems to be the case here. Yes, the left side of the Internet is lighting up with claims that receiving information is the same thing as receiving an unlawful foreign campaign contribution, but the argument (based on current facts) is frivolous. The law is designed to capture contributions of definable value, like money or other assets. What is the definable value of “information”? Defining speech as a reportable or even illegal “thing of value” would raise serious constitutional concerns.

But to say that it (so far) appears that Donald Jr. didn’t break the law isn’t to defend his actions. To repeat, it now looks as if the senior campaign team of a major-party presidential candidate intended to meet with an official representative of a hostile foreign power to facilitate that foreign power’s attempt to influence an American election. Russian collusion claims are no longer the exclusive province of tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists. No American — Democrat or Republican — should defend the expressed intent of this meeting.

Going further, at long last we can now put to bed the notion that the Russia investigation is little more than frivolous partisan harassment, and it casts in an entirely different light the president’s fury and frustration at its continued progress. As recently as last week, it appeared that the “collusion narrative” had lost steam, and that the so-called “Russia scandal” had morphed into an attack on Donald Trump’s handling of the investigation, rather than the investigation itself. If you had told me last week that there existed an e-mail chain where a Trump contact explicitly tried to set up a meeting between a purported Russian official and the Trump senior team to facilitate official Russian efforts to beat Clinton, I’d have thought you’d been spending too much time in the deranged corners of Twitter.

As of now, we should have zero confidence that we know all or even most material facts. We should have zero confidence that Trump’s frustration is entirely due to his feeling like an innocent man caught in the crosshairs of crazed conspiracy theorists. It now appears that his son, son-in-law, and campaign chair met with a lawyer who they were told was part of an official Russian government effort to impact the presidential election. The Russian investigation isn’t a witch hunt anymore, if it ever was. It’s a national necessity.

READ MORE:

Trust Nothing, Defend Nothing

The Don Jr. Meeting 3.0 and 4.0

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More