With the shift in the "Russian collusion" narrative over the last 24 hours, which has seamlessly drifted away from Donald Trump (Senior) and now seeks to pin the Putin-Puppet tail on his son, Donald Trump Jr, it appears The New York Times is also once again shifting the narrative. Having admitted he took a meeting regarding potentially compromising information on Hillary as part of opposition research - just as the Clinton campaign did against Trump, only using Ukraine sources - NYT now reports that three people have told them that Trump Jr. was told the damaging information promised about Hillary Clinton was part of a Russian government effort to help his father's presidential campaign.
With Donald Trump Jr volunteering to cooperate with any and all intelligence probes into the original narrative (and lawyering up) - where the only compromising information was that an allegedly Kremlin-linked lawyer represented to having anti-Clinton information which she did not - the focus has now shifted on Trump Jr. taking the meeting "knowing" the source of the information was the Kremlin, at least according to what the three NYT sources allege.
Before arranging 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 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.
Once again, the NYT admits:
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.
But, then prompts the narrative...
...the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.
Trump Jr.'s newly-appointed lawyer dismissed the Times' report in a statement to the newspaper.
”In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he said to The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”
And yet, since the meeting touches on a question at the heart of several concurrent investigations into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, namely whether Trump associates colluded with Russian officials or representatives, the latest narrative involving Trump Jr. extends the shelf life of the "Russia" story well into the foreseeable future, much to the delight of Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who on Monday suggested that Donald Trump Jr. may have been the first individual to become aware of the Russians’ intention to help his father in the 2016 presidential election.
“So if this is correct, the first person who may have found out that the Russians had decided not just to gather information about what the candidates’ positions might be or what they might do in office,” was Trump's eldest son, Schiff told Maddow.
“But they had made a decision to intervene to try to help a candidate, the first person who may have learned that was the president’s son, through this email because at that time, we couldn’t be sure whether this was going to go beyond the intelligence gathering operation.”
Three things, however, are problematic.
First, we know the meeting ended with nothing - implying that if indeed the Kremlin was the source of this intelligence gatherin operation, then they wasted a perfectly good meeting to build goodwill with Trump. Furthermore, the meeting took place one month before the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and long before the Podesta emails were distributed on Wikileaks.
Second, those at the top of the campaign said they never heard about the meeting because it was inconsequential (The Kremlin obviously also denied knowledge of the meeting).
Third, NYT admits 19 paragraphs down that the author of the email that allegedly confirms the source is the Kremlin denies it.
But Mr. Goldstone, who wrote the email over a year ago, denied any knowledge of involvement by the Russian government in the matter, saying that never dawned on him. “Never, never ever,” he said. Later, after the email was described to The Times, efforts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.
In the interview, he said it was his understanding that Ms. Veselnitskaya was simply a “private citizen” for whom Mr. Agalarov wanted to do a favor. He also said he did not know whether Mr. Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Moscow real estate tycoon known to be close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, was involved. The elder Mr. Agalarov and the younger Mr. Trump worked together to bring a Trump Tower to Moscow, but the project never got off the ground.
Mr. Goldstone also said his recollection of the meeting largely tracked with the account given by the president’s son, as outlined in the Sunday statement Mr. Trump issued in response to a Times story on the June 2016 meeting.
Which means, that the New York Times found three sources who claim that the man who actually wrote the email is lying about the email he wrote, and that the president's son is also lying, and that (given the Kremlin was involved) the Russian government was clueless as there was no actionable information (Trump Kr walked out of the meeting). Unless, of course, the Kremlin was never involved in the first place, especially since nothing ever came out of the meeting, and Trump senior was likewise never involved, in which case it would merely come down to Goldstone boasting about his non-existent connections.
Still, the angle here is clear. By seeking to involve Trump Jr. in lieu of his father, the NYT article may potentially draw the younger Trump into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and representatives of the Russian government. And, as Bloomberg reports, whether the meeting violated federal election law would depend on showing the younger Trump knowingly solicited or accepted information from the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, that could be of value to the campaign. Since we know that no actionably information was revealed (suggesting either the Russian government knew nothing, or said lawyer had nothing to do with the Kremlin) the only question is whether Trump Jr. "actively solicited" a meeting which was pitched to him by a person, whose narrative differs from that of the NYT sources.
In short, the situation could be resolved quickly and effectively once the Goldstone's email is presented. Incidentally, as Bloomberg also adds, "the election commission - which is frequently gridlocked along partisan lines - also could decline to act."
Finally, as The Caller reminds us, the Clinton campaign did the same thing with the Ukraine government that Trump Jr. is now being accused of doing with a Russian:
A veteran DNC operative who previously worked in the Clinton White House, Alexandra Chalupa, worked with Ukrainian government officials and journalists from both Ukraine and America to dig up Russia-related opposition research on Trump and Manafort. She also shared her anti-Trump research with both the DNC and the Clinton campaign, according to the Politico report.
Chalupa met with Ukrainian ambassador Valeriy Chaly and one of his aides, Oksara Shulyar, at the Ukrainian Embassy in March 2016 to talk about unearthing Paul Manafort’s Russian connections, Chalupa admitted to Politico. Four days later, Trump officially hired Manafort.
“The day after Manafort’s hiring was revealed, she briefed the DNC’s communications staff on Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia, according to an operative familiar with the situation,” Politico reported. The Politico report also notes that the DNC encouraged Chalupa to try to arrange an interview with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to talk about Manafort’s ties to the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort previously advised.
* * *
After Trump’s shocking electoral victory, the Ukrainian government told Politico, “We have never worked to research and disseminate damaging information about Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.” But Andrii Telizhenko, a former Ukrainian embassy officer, told Politico that he was assigned to work with Chalupa.
“Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” said Telizhenko “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.”
And while we doubt this particular set of similarities will be featured in the press, we are confident that now that the "Russian collusion" story has gotten its latest boost of Adrenalin courtesy of Trump Jr, even as the similar narrative involving his father had gotten absolutely nowehere, the only topic across virtuall all media outlets for the coming week will be, you guessed it, Russia, something which will promptly drag Trump kicking and screaming on twitter, where he may finally say or do something that does have negative consequences.