I’ve found it a little odd how much of the conversation about the meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer has taken as a given that the meeting didn’t amount to much.
It’s not impossible. Russian oligarchs and the Russian government desperately want the Magnitsky Act repealed, and it’s plausible that an emissary of theirs would seek a meeting with a sympathetic candidate to lobby for that idea — even if they didn’t have anything of value to offer in return, and even if they had to offer a dishonest pretext to get the meeting.
Maybe Natalia Veselnitskaya really did just waste everybody’s time.
But the people telling us nothing came of the meeting are people who were in the meeting and would have reason to want us to believe nothing came of the meeting. And they’re also lying liars who have been lying about all sorts of stuff, including, for months, whether there were contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.
Donald Trump Jr.’s story about why he took the meeting makes no sense. Tuesday night on “Hannity,” he repeatedly said he took the meeting as “a courtesy” to “an acquaintance.” Was Trump Jr. routinely pulling Paul Manafort (the campaign chairman) and Jared Kushner (a Trump child whose time is actually valuable) into meetings with unknown people with information of unknown value in order to provide courtesies to acquaintances? If so, he must have been extremely annoying to work with.
And the email from Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who set up the meeting, to Trump Jr. promised information as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Not only did Trump Jr. not react with alarm to that statement, he didn’t even react with surprise. The implication was that Trump Jr. was already aware of, and interested in, Russian government efforts to help the campaign.
And when Trump Jr. asked Manafort and Kushner to join a meeting related to said efforts, Manafort and Kushner apparently did not say “buzz off kid, we’re busy running a front-running presidential campaign, go take your own meeting brokered by the eccentric publicist for an Azeri pop star.” They thought it was worth their time to join — presumably because they were also aware of and interested in such Russian efforts.
These people are not honest, and the story they are telling about this meeting does not make sense. Do not assume that it is true.