The Lowdown on the Transcripts Regarding the Trump Tower Meeting Released by the Senate
I’ve spent the last hour and a half sifting through most of the 2500 pages of documents that the Senate released today concerning the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, and here’s what I can tell you: There’s not a lot we didn’t already know here.
Based on the testimony, it appears that a music producer, Rob Goldstone, likely trying to kiss up to the Trumps, arranged a meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian attorney in the hopes of providing Don Jr. and Co., dirt on Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. and Co., accepted the meeting hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. There is a clear effort here by the Trump campaign to collude with the Russians but the Russian attorney didn’t appear to have any information to share about Hillary Clinton, at least from the testimony provided. The Trump campaign seemed frustrated by this, because they wanted dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. They just didn’t get any, at this particular meeting.
It is also apparent that Goldstone at least offered Donald Trump the opportunity to go to Moscow in November of 2016, potentially to meet with Putin, and the Trump campaign seemed amenable to it but didn’t see how they could find the time during the campaign.
There are also efforts coordinated through Don Jr. and the campaign’s social media director, Dan Scavino, to reach out to Russians living in America and get them to the polls. There’s nothing illegal about this, but it’s obvious that the Trump campaign sought the Russian vote. That might have been an explosive piece of information before the campaign, but the way that Trump has normalized his relationship with Russia since converts that information into an afterthought. Like, duh: Of course, there was an outreach effort to Russian Americans.
It is fun, however, to go through all the emails after news of the meeting leaked, and see Rob Goldstone freak the hell out because he believes that being linked to Trump is going to ruin his producing career. Good. Serves you right for trying to collude with the Russians.
Again, an effort was made.
Did Trump know about his son’s efforts? Don Jr. insists that he couldn’t recall, though the totality of the evidence suggests, at least circumstantially, that Trump knew.
New: Trump Jr talked to Emin Agalarov who arranged Trump Tower meeting then made 11-minute phone call to a blocked number. Trump Jr said he couldn't remember who he called. However, Dems note Corey Lewandowski testified Candidate Trump's primary residence has a blocked number.— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 16, 2018
Also, that Trump helped draft that statement on Air Force One in response to the NYTimes original piece on the meeting. There was an effort by the Trump campaign to deny, and then to selectively admit only what was on record.
Ultimately, based on what’s in the Senate’s transcripts, this is going to be a story that probably disappears by the afternoon. You can’t be indicted for trying to collude, or for lying to the press, and that’s the sum total of what is here, although it all certainly provides evidence of a pattern and can certainly be used to bolster collusion claims involving other instances of which Mueller may be aware.
Here’s a few noteworthy items:
Rob Goldstone, the publicist who helped arranged the meeting promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, told lawmakers he set up the meeting through Donald Trump Jr. rather than Trump's longtime assistant Rhona Graff because he "he was the lesser level." pic.twitter.com/wyRuf1weiZ— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 16, 2018
After Trump Tower meeting became public, an unknown person emailed Ike Kaveladze (one of the participants) asking why Trump Jr.'s statement was "admitting to collusion." pic.twitter.com/GD2PfFoK83— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 16, 2018