Collusion gone missing

The latest Washington Post collusion story is different from the others. The story is “Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings.” Last night Paul Mirengoff summarized and and deconstructed the story here.

If you’ve been following the collusion hysteria, you won’t want to miss this story. The story comes in the accustomed form — under the byline of numerous Post heavy hitters (Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman with the assistance of Adam Entous, Alice Crites, Devlin Barrett, David Filipov, Philip Rucker and Ellen Nakashima), features the usual anonymous sources, and stands at one remove from the original documents — but this is a collusion story with a difference. The collusion has gone missing.

The story is based on “20,000 pages of documents the Trump campaign turned over to congressional committees this month after review by White House and defense lawyers.” The Post reporters haven’t seen the documents themselves, but relevant parts have been read to them “by a person with access to them.” And that’s not all: “Two other people with access to the emails confirmed the general tone of the exchanges and some specific passages within them.” I guess that’s the way the Post heavy hitters were taught to do it in journalism school.

The Post heavy hitters won’t come right out and say it, but those parts of the 20,000 pages that were read to them lack the whiff of collusion. The emails involving a volunteer campaign policy adviser demonstrate that proposed meetings with the Russians “generated more concern than excitement within the campaign[,]” which of course does not slow down the heavy hitters one bit.

Again, that’s not all. Proposals sent to then campaign manager Paul Manafort were expressly rejected. “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips [to Russia],” Manafort wrote.

The Post solicited a comment from an unnamed spokesman for Manafort. The unnamed spokesman commented that the email chain provides “concrete evidence that the Russia collusion narrative is fake news.” That seems an entirely reasonable interpretation of the evidence presented in the story.

Wary of readers who may need to brush up on ancient history, the Post heavy hitters add that Manafort’s “Virginia home was raided by FBI agents three weeks ago as part of an investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III[.]” It’s amazing what you can do with nine reporters on a story like this.

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