Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee released 2,500 pages of testimony regarding a meeting between top Trump campaign aides — including the then-candidate's son, Donald Trump, Jr. — and a small group of Russian emissaries who reportedly offered the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.
So far, though, the report is less damaging than many of Trump's critics had hoped, casting some doubt on whether the meeting rose to such a level of collusion that a special counsel investigation was ultimately required.
The meeting, which took place in June 2016, is a "central focus" of Robert Mueller's investigation, according to CNN. If President Trump knew about the meeting when it happened, there is a greater chance the president had some idea Russian officials were attempting to influence the Trump campaign.
A cursory read of the document, though, provides little evidence Trump knew much about the meeting, if anything. The worst "smoking gun" — if you can call it that — seems to be some disagreement between Trump, Jr., and his father over who contributed to a July 8 statement about the meeting itself, and whether attorneys were involved in drafting Trump's note, or whether communications director Hope Hicks also had a role.
The rest of the testimony seems to underline what the public already knows happened: Trump, Jr. took a meeting, arranged by an aide, on the premise that the Russian officials had real dirt on Clinton. He claims he did not inform his father of the meeting beforehand, nor would he, so that his father could maintain a safe distance from less seemly campaign machinations.
Trump, Jr. said he was "willing to listen" to the Russian officials' offerings, but ultimately came away from the meeting disappointed, as did Jared Kushner, also present, and the Russian officials.
The Russian interpreter, who also testified in front of the Senate committee, told investigators that there "was no offer to release hacked emails, hack voter systems or anything else 'that might reasonably be considered collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia." A publicist present at the meeting said the Russians considered the talk a "waste of time."
Ultimately, the worst part seems to be that the Trump contingent was warned that the meeting could prove to be a disastrous move from a public relations perspective and could even jeopardize the campaign (and, later, a presidency). That predication certainly came to pass.