As the media explode with rumors and innuendo regarding an apparent meeting between Donald Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Russian-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, it’s become clear that the Left sees the story as the lighting of the fuse that will blow up the Trump administration.
But it isn’t that clear.
Here are six things you need to know.
1. Donald Trump Jr. Didn’t Tell The Truth About The Meeting. Trump Jr. originally didn’t report the meeting. Then he said that the meeting was about adoptions. Then he changed his story again and said that the meeting was supposed to be about opposition research on Hillary Clinton, but he made no reference to whether he knew Veselnitskaya had information from the Russian government. Finally, The New York Times alleged the presence of an email exposing that Trump Jr. knew about Veselnitskaya’s Russian connection.
2. Veselnitskaya Denies Being A Russian Agent. While you wouldn’t expect a Russian agent to ‘fess up to being a Russian agent, Veselnitskaya said on NBC News this morning that she never worked for the Russian government and has no formal connection to it. According to The New York Times, Veselnitskaya works closely with the Russian government and has represented “state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son.” According to The Washington Post, the meeting itself was set by Rob Goldstone, a publicist associated with Aras Agalarov, a billionaire developer who was in business with Trump in the past and had associations with the Russian government.
3. Veselnitskaya Denies Approaching Trump Jr. About Hillary Information. Veselnitskaya said, “I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that.” She then added, mysteriously, “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 said that Trump Jr. asked one question: “whether I had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the DNC were coming from inappropriate sources…it was never my intention to collect any financial records to that end.”
4. No Information Was Exchanged. Veselnitskaya says Trump Jr. was willing to meet with her, but that Kushner left the meeting after a few minutes and Manafort ignored her conversation because he was too busy on his phone. Trump Jr. says her information was vague and contradictory, and that she never handed over any usable opposition research.
5. Trump Himself Denies Involvement. The White House says Trump didn’t know about any of this. So does Trump Jr.
6. This Isn’t Illegal. As Jonathan Turley states:
There is no crime in listening to people who say that they have incriminating information on a political opponent, even a foreigner. … If notice of a possible crime or information is now deemed as thing of tangible value under federal campaign laws, the wide array of exchanges on behalf of campaign would be implicated. Indeed, major free speech and association issues would be raised. Once again, this is a matter that is worthy of investigation. However, these possible criminal charges are radically over-extended on the facts that we currently have.
If we were to broaden the laws to encompass such activity, as Peter Hasson of Daily Caller points out, we’d have to include the Clinton campaign’s connections with the Ukrainian government. Politico reported during the campaign:
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.
Was this a crime, too?
The Left’s hope is that this meeting represents merely the first domino to fall in a chain of dominoes that will prove ongoing collaboration between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. But the evidence just isn’t there yet. That won’t stop the Left from running with the story anyway.