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OPINION | Forget Don Jr.'s email -- it's Hillary Clinton who 'colluded' with Russia
The effort to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has proven to be little more than a conspiracy theory desperately in search of evidence. With only "rumors... newspapers stories... (but) not necessarily evidence" in the recent words of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif), the left has tried to take down President Donald Trump and ignore the issues the American people care about.
The recent New York Times stories aimed at Donald Trump Jr. are the latest attempt to provide evidence of collusion where none exists. The Times reported Monday that Trump Jr. accepted a meeting with a Russian lawyer after being told that she might provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton that was part of a Russian government effort to aid Trump.
This micro story about a Trump Jr. meeting with a purported Kremlin-related attorney has been opportunistically harnessed by some to prove a broader, evidence-free, macro story of Trump campaign collusion with Russians in hacking the DNC and releasing Hillary Clinton's emails to the public. But the micro fails to prove the macro, though the left breathlessly alleges it does.
As the Times stories aimed at Donald Trump Jr. emerged, Trump Jr. and those involved opted for transparency every step of the way.
In the Times' first story published Saturday, reporting a meeting among Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer, the meeting is curiously described as "previously unreported," despite the fact that both Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort disclosed the meeting before the Times' reporting.
The Times' own reporting admits this several paragraphs down and then adds, "Because Donald Trump Jr. does not serve in the administration and does not have a security clearance, he was not required to disclose his foreign contacts." In short, this meeting, which was portrayed as nefarious across several anti-Trump media outlets, was disclosed and openly reported by its attendees - Kushner and Manafort.
The Times' Monday night reporting went further in suggesting the email setting up the meeting promised damning Clinton information provided by the Russian government.
Again, in a move of full transparency, Trump Jr. publicly released the entire email chain on Twitter. The initial email states that the "Crown prosecutor of Russia" offered to provide the Trump campaign with "information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia."
In other words, the information Trump Jr. initially expressed interest in receiving was not hacked emails or illegally obtained documents but apparently information about Clinton's official Secretary of State dealings with Russia. At the time the information was offered on June 3, 2016, there was no information suggesting Russian hackers were responsible for the hacking of the DNC. Donald Trump Jr., in other words, had no reason to believe that the information he sought was little more than opposition research.
Trump Jr. did, however, have full reason to suspect Clinton had operated nefariously in her dealings with Russia. Bill Clinton had given a $500,000 speech in Russia. Clinton had given her approval in handing one-fifth of U.S. uranium to Russia, after which her foundation received $2.35 million from the Russian-controlled company. Suspiciously, Clinton did not disclose the transaction.
Likewise, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta sat on the board of a company that received $35 million from the Russian government alongside fellow board members Anatoly Chubais, a senior Russian official, and Ruben Vardanyan, an oligarch.
Given this context, why wouldn't Trump Jr. be open to taking a meeting that offered evidence of incriminating Clinton dealings with Russia, particularly when most of the media refused to look into Clinton's question-raising actions?
Trump Jr. honestly stated days ago that he was interested in "claims of potentially helpful information." His email chain confirms his intentions even though, in the end, the information was merely a pretext for the Russian lawyer to push her own agenda related to the impact of Western sanctions on adoption of Russian children.
Trump Jr.'s interest in attaining opposition research is nothing new. Where was the outrage when "Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump," according to Politico? It was non-existent because Clinton is a darling of the media, where the left and the right are held to different standards.
In addition to offering opposition research, the meeting's facilitator, a man who is connected to a former Trump business associate, references "Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." The media is of course seizing on this as damning.
But why is this news breaking? We knew as far back as 2015 that Putin thought highly of a Trump presidency. After all, he said during a December 2015 news conference, Trump "is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it."
We likewise know that several foreign countries known for their human rights violations - like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei, and Algeria - donated millions to the Clinton foundation, and yet few publications construed their "support" in a negative way.
Taken together, the micro story of Donald Trump Jr. seeking opposition research - much like Clinton allies did in their dealings with the Ukrainian government - does nothing in the way of proving the macro allegation that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in hacking the DNC and releasing Clinton's illegally obtained emails.
The American people see through this leftist-purveyed Russia conspiracy theory. That's why a full 56 percent want Congress and the media to focus on real issues, not Russia. If the left continues to concoct Russian collusion evidence, they can fully expect for the 2018 congressional elections to look a lot like the special elections in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Georgia - Republican victory. Voters dismiss the salacious in favor of solutions, and as of now, the left have nothing besides an evidence-free smear campaign.
Kayleigh McEnany (@KayleighMcEnany) is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and studied politics at Oxford University.
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