When the story on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer broke, it worried me greatly. However, the more I learn about the meeting and about the events surrounding it, the more dubious I become to its newsworthiness. The latest bit of information that makes me skeptical of the value of this story comes from the Russian lawyer that Trump Jr. met with.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Natalia Veselnitskaya explained that she never had any negative information about the Clinton campaign and that she was actually trying to meet with high-ranking officials to discuss American sanctions on Russia and the ensuing order from the Russian government forbidding US adoption of Russian children.
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Natalia Veselnitskaya said.
Her account appeared to contradict that of Trump Jr., who said on Sunday that the premise of the meeting was to discuss damaging information on Clinton that the lawyer was offering. When asked how Trump Jr. seemed to have the impression that she had information about the Democratic National Committee, she responded:
“It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted.”
As the interview plays it out, it seems to confirm a few things for me, and it brings up a few new questions. I believe Trump Jr.’s first response that he met with a woman about the Russian adoption issue was actually an honest answer because this was actually what was discussed, even if it wasn’t what Trump Jr. wanted to hear about. It also confirms just how bad the Trump team was at playing politics. When the Clintons do this kind of thing, they send surrogates so that they can keep plausible deniability. The Trump team seems to have no idea how to play politics, which is why they were elected, right?
It also makes me even more incredulous about the Russia-collusion theory. If Russia and the Trump team were colluding, wouldn’t this meeting (and the emails that facilitated it) have been handled much more professionally? While the Trump team had no political espionage training, the Russians are masters of it, and they would have done everything they could to cover their tracks and mask their fingerprints.
The fact that Paul Manafort (supposedly Trump’s most direct link to Russia) was in on this meeting also seems to prove that there was NO collusion happening. Wouldn’t Manafort, the supposed Russian whisperer, have known that this woman wasn’t a Russian agent with good information to peddle before the team decided to accept the meeting?
None of this makes any sense. I think Russia was trying to influence the election. I think the Trump team would have listened to almost anyone who said they had dirt on the Clinton campaign, but I don’t think anything illegal ever happened between the two groups. There’s just nothing showing the back and forth necessary for collusion to have taken place. Nothing.