Earlier this morning, Donald Trump, Jr. released the email threads relating to his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. The emails support his account of the meeting. Here they are, with the earlier ones first. The early emails are the only significant ones; the later emails relate to scheduling. Click to enlarge:
A few points are worth noting. First, the emails support Trump Jr.’s statement that he attended the meeting because he had been told that the Russian with whom he would meet had negative information about Hillary Clinton. The email from Rob Goldstone, who drove the whole process, says that “the Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia….”
This would obviously have been of great interest to the Trump campaign, and Trump, Jr. would have been foolish not to schedule the meeting. In one of the emails he says, “if it’s what you say I love it,” an entirely appropriate response that also showed an appropriate degree of skepticism. Trump may have assumed that the incriminating information would relate to the uranium transactions that are described in Clinton Cash, but there is no elaboration in the emails.
Second, someone in this chain is obviously lying, and it isn’t Donald Trump, Jr. Maybe the Russian Crown prosecutor lied, or maybe Emin or Aras lied, or maybe Goldstone lied, and maybe Natalia Veselnitskaya was in on it. Why any of these people would falsely claim to have dirt on Hillary is unclear. One wouldn’t expect that the lie originated with Goldstone, since as soon as the meeting took place, it would be exposed, and Goldstone could only look like a fool.
Beyond that, all we can say is that Trump, Jr. correctly described what he was told and why he agreed to the meeting. Nothing about that process reflects poorly on him at all.
Third, one of Goldstone’s emails refers to Veselnitskays as a “Russian government attorney,” which she wasn’t. Goldstone, and probably also Emin and Aras (whoever they are) presumably were trying to pump up the importance of their “scoop” by saying the Russian lawyer worked for that country’s government.
Fourth, the Democratic Party press will likely try to make something out of Rob Goldstone’s statement that this “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump–helped along by Aras and Emin.” This statement might carry weight if, in fact, the lawyer had been an emissary from the Russian government, and if she actually had conveyed negative information about Hillary Clinton. But she wasn’t, and she didn’t. Goldstone was being had (or else he was participating in an elaborate scheme to fool Donald Trump, Jr.), and the Russians weren’t helping Trump at all.
Again, we don’t know why this happened. Aras and Emin, and also Goldstone, were obviously trying to magnify their own importance. Aras and Emin apparently were trying to take credit for swinging the Russian government in Trump’s direction. However, as it turned out, there was nothing to take credit for. Given the way the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya turned out, there is no reason to think anyone in the Russian government had anything to do with it.
Maybe someday we will find out where the lies began and what motivated them. The answers could turn out to be moderately interesting. For now, all we can say is that the emails confirm Donald Trump, Jr.’s account, and support the conclusion that once again, the New York Times and the Washington Post have made fools of themselves by trying to fashion an anti-Trump news story out of entirely innocent materials.