On Monday, The New York Times dropped another bombshell report regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s June of 2016 meeting with Russian citizen and Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. According to reports, Ms. Veselnitskaya has deep ties to the Russian government and has primarily acted as a lobbyist at the behest of the Kremlin, though Vladimir Putin denies even knowing who she is. Their most recent report states that Donald Trump Jr. did, in fact, know that the individual he was to funnel him information as part of a Russian effort designed to help Donald Trump get elected and hurt Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Those on the left, as well as the American news media, have been fulminating over this meeting’s existence while incessantly claiming that it confirms the narrative that never seems to go away: Trump colluded with Russia in order to defeat Hillary Clinton and clinch the presidency and the information to be provided to Trump Jr. was in relation to the hacking of the DNC. However, after all of the bombshell reports dropped by The New York Times, collusion involving Russia and Donald Trump Jr. and subsequent illegality have yet to be proven, let alone collusion between President Trump himself and Russia. To address the second part of the left’s claim, the Times notes themselves that 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.”
Collusion on the level of Trump Jr. has yet to be proven because no evidentiary standard has been met, period. Ostensibly, no crucial information damaging the Democrats was funneled to Trump Jr. or the rest of the Trump camp via Ms. Veselnitskaya, and unless someone can prove otherwise, Trump Jr.’s meeting was based in abject lawfulness. But, was it also rooted in morality? When one looks at a previous campaign that was by no means entrenched in morality, you will still find a distinct disconnect between the actions of, say Al Gore’s camp in 2000 and Trump Jr.’s readiness to hear damaging information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As noted by Stuart Stevens, a high-level member of Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency in 2012, “When Gore campaign was sent Bush debate brief book, they called FBI. If foreign interests offer you info on former SOS, you call the FBI.”
The vague phraseology and unwillingness to tell the full story up front on the part of Donald Trump Jr. are only further shrouding this story with more questions. Trump Jr. first said that this meeting was to discuss a Russian adoption policy and that he did not even know her name; something undoubtedly better saved for when President Trump is no longer a private citizen, but a public servant. He then went on to publicly concede that the meeting’s purpose was to help the Trump camp win by providing them with harmful details about the Clinton campaign. Now, he has not even denied the most recent report linking him to having knowledge that the source of said information would be from Russia themselves.
There is no strong legal case against Donald Trump Jr. as the case stands. That is because reportedly no valuable information was delivered to the Trump camp by way of the Russians. Even if information was handed off to Trump Jr., recieving damaging information on a political opponent, from a foreigner or not, is legal. That doesn’t make what Trump Jr. did right, and it certainly doesn’t mean that this will dissuade Democrats from impeaching Trump in any fashion by 2018 if they were to retake Congress. They will attempt to catch him on anything even if the charges are groundless. In the meantime, this story still requires more investigation, which a bipartisan panel on the Hill is calling for.