In the three days since Donald Trump, Jr. released the emails he exchanged with British publicist Rob Goldstone about a “Russian government attorney” and the opposition research she might provide on Hillary Clinton, there have been no additional “scoops” — just an endless stream of cable news talking heads offering more speculation.
Absent any further information, there is still no evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In fact, the emails tend to suggest the opposite.
First, there is nothing in the emails that refers to the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee email server, which had already happened and has been the basis for claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Notably, the hackers had also targeted the Republican National Committee, but the RNC’s defenses were apparently strong enough to withstand the hacking attempt.)
Second, the emails suggest that there was no pre-existing channel between the Trump campaign and Russia. It is highly unlikely that if the Russian government did want to work with Trump, it would use a pop star publicist as an intermediary. Regardless, the emails make no reference to any other kind of existing communication with Russians.
Third, the Russian lawyer provided no information to Donald Trump, Jr. and the others at the meeting, at least according to those present, including the lawyer herself. (Ironically, the information that the publicist claimed the lawyer was going to provide dealt with alleged collusion by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats with the Russians.)
So there was no collusion, based on what is known thus far. In the absence of any evidence of collusion, the media and the Democrats are talking about an “attempt to collude,” which is a meaningless term, legally and literally.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “collusion” as “secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.” There was no agreement, no cooperation, and neither the meeting nor its purpose was illegal.
The mere fact that Trump, Jr. was willing to meet with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya — who also worked with Democrats and a Democrat-linked opposition research firm, Fusion GPS — is being described as nefarious. But there is no evidence that Veselnitskaya was linked to the Kremlin — a charge that the mainstream media continues to repeat as established fact, despite her denials, a complete lack proof, and significant evidence to the contrary.
The fact that the publicist represented her as a “Russian government attorney” seems mere puffery. So, too, does his claim that the Russian government supported Trump, which is typical PR flattery. Goldstone seems to have had no idea what he was talking about with regard to Russia: he referred, for example, to a “Crown prosecutor of Russia,” an office that does not exist. Notably, Donald Trump, Jr. did not acknowledge the suggestion of Russian support.
There are some legitimate questions that the emails raise, such as why the meeting was not acknowledged earlier. That has a reasonable answer — namely, that it is easy to forget a short, inconsequential meeting among hundreds if not thousands of meetings — but the question is not unfair. Similarly, while the emails suggest no collusion before June 2016, they do not say what happened later — although there is no evidence yet of collusion afterwards, either.
Thus, three days in, the story of Donald Trump, Jr.’s emails provides no evidence of “collusion” with the Russians, and is just the latest example of the solipsistic hysteria of Trump’s critics, still desperate to undo the 2016 election.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.