As staggering as the content of the email exchange between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone is, there’s also something incredibly telling about what it doesn’t say. The email is all about an effort to set the Trump campaign up with some incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. In the middle of the message, Goldstone just offhandedly remarks that not only is this “very high level and sensitive information” but also that it is “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
The new information contained in the email is that the crown prosecutor of Russia (Goldstone is British and is using a Britishism for referring to a high-level prosecutor) has some official documents that he would be interested in passing to Trump through a back channel.
But the larger existence of a Russian government campaign to support the Trump campaign is simply taken for granted, with no further context or explanation.
Read the whole email (emphasis added):
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.
Trump Jr. does not seem even slightly confused by this reference. Goldstone says he wants to set up a meeting that is part of the Russian government’s support for Trump’s campaign, and he simply takes it in stride, the way anyone takes in stride any reference to an ongoing thing that they are aware of.
Trump Jr. is attempting to write this whole thing off as much ado about nothing on the grounds that, allegedly, nothing actually resulted from the meeting. That doesn’t begin to grapple with the total possible extent of his legal exposure, but it also doesn’t begin to grapple with the full implications of this email. With the most natural reading, the email suggests Trump Jr. was already aware of an ongoing series of pro-Trump efforts undertaken by the Russian government, of which this meeting was just one part.
The offhanded reference to the possibility of sending this info to his father via Rhona (the presidential candidate’s assistant) also implies, albeit somewhat less clearly, that the candidate himself could have been aware of this larger scheme.
That’s a huge revelation — and it raises any number of questions about when, exactly, the Trump team became aware of this effort and what, if anything, they did about it.