The new meaning of collusion

Today the New York Times credits four reporters with the story advancing the latest installment of the “collusion” story involving the Trump campaign and a mysterious Russian lawyer. We are colluding in comedy.

In today’s episode the Times reports that before Donald Trump, Jr. arranged a meeting with “a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.” The Times has posted related stories here on the pageant angle to provide context.

In today’s installment of the collusion comedy none of the four Times reporters has seen the email. The Times does not report that anything was delivered in the meeting. So far as we can tell from the story, the thing was some kind of a hoax.

With the reporters’ heavy breathing and the anticlimactic plot, we have a laugh riot on our hands.

Commence the heavy breathing:

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign.

Now comes the approach to the anticlimax:

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

The story continues, but the Times’s four reporters do not pause to itemize other blanks or holes. This is the true anticlimax. “There is no evidence” for much more. The reader is left on his own to draw the relevant inferences.

There is no evidence that the Russian lawyer had damaging information to deliver. There is no evidence that the Russian lawyer delivered damaging information. There is no evidence that Trump Jr. asked the Russian lawyer to come back with damaging information. There is no evidence that Trump Jr. would have promised the Russian lawyer anything if she had agreed to return with damaging information. There is no evidence that Trump Jr. came away from the meeting with anything but disappointed expectations.

Is this some kind of a joke?

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