By Joe Gandelman, Editor-In-Chief , The Moderate Voice, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
Photo: Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore
July 10, 2017 (Washington D.C.) -- Yet another journalistic bombshell from the New York Times: the paper reports that Donald Trump, Jr. was informed in advance of his meeting with a Russian lawyer that she had negative info about Hillary Clinton — and that the info came from the Russian government.
Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.
The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.
Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign.
There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.
But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.
It’s not clear at this point that she actually had any such information — from what we can tell, she sought the meeting in order to discuss with the Trump campaign her longstanding campaign to get a set of sanctions related to human rights abuses lifted. And there’s no indication that the Veselnitskaya meeting had anything to do with the emails pilfered by Russian-backed hackers from the Democratic National Committee or John Podesta.
Still, the fact that the Trump campaign took a high-level meeting — Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were also present — whose ostensible purpose was for the Trump campaign to work with the Russian government to take down Clinton certainly increases the level of plausibility around the possibility that people from Trumpworld were involved in the anti-Clinton information operation that we do know took place.