If you will please afford me the benefit of any doubts you may have that I am an honest person, I will attempt to explain for you in the simplest terms why the Donald Trump Jr. emails do not provide evidence of active collusion with Russia to defeat Hillary.
The initial email from Goldstone is transcribed below: (Source ABC)
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
In the initial email transcribed above or any subsequent email in the chain, the content and gravity of the alleged incriminating information and the name(s) of its source(s) is not divulged. At this point, Don Jr. has only been informed that the information includes “high level and sensitive..official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” and that it originates from Russia as part of “its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Let’s pause here and consider Don Jr’s options.
A) Decline the offer outright and terminate all correspondence.
B) Notify the authorities of the email correspondence which references undisclosed, alleged incriminating information of your election opponent’s dealings with Russia from unnamed Russian government sources.
C) Obtain more specific information regarding the content and gravity of the information and credibility of the sources before deciding whether to pursue options A, B or another course of action.
I would argue that Don Jr’s decision to pursue Option ‘C’ and obtain more information does not involve “collusion” since, according to the consistent statements of all participants involved, there was no incriminating information disclosed during the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya. As a result, Don Jr. was able to subsequently choose option ‘A’ and terminate contact with a high level of confidence that their election opponent had not engaged in criminal activity with a foreign power. This would not be the case if he would have terminated contact prior to obtaining more details on the content and sources.
With hindsight, I’m sure that he wishes he would have pursued Option ‘B’ and alerted the authorities immediately upon receiving the initial email. However, based on the specific circumstances involved, I would expect any campaign to maintain internal communications until the scope and source of the information was more developed. Don Jr. was likely also concerned that his friend Emin and his father could unnecessarily be subjected to scrutiny and prosecution in Russia for their involvement. This is not an excuse but it would certainly be an incentive to learn more before engaging with external bodies (media, law enforcement, FEC, etc.).
In his interview with Hannity last evening, Don Jr. asserted that if, during their meeting, they had received any evidence that Hillary had violated US laws in her dealings with Russia, they would have contacted the authorities immediately. You will have to take his word on it because there apparently was no cause to take such action. Nevertheless, I cannot conceive how anyone could conclude that Don Jr’s decision to obtain more information before determining the proper course of action involves collusion with Russia
“I didn’t know if there was any credibility, I didn’t know if there was anything behind it, I can’t vouch for the information. Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly.”…
“That’s what we do in business–if there’s information out there you want it,” he continued. “If there was something that came from it that was shady, if it was a danger to national security, I would obviously bring it right to someone.”…
“Turns out there wasn’t anything,”
Donald Trump Jr. on “Hannity” 12 July, 2017