Everything we were initially told about the meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump’s senior campaign staff has turned out to be a lie. It’s now blindingly clear that the Trump campaign sought out opportunities to collude with the Russian government. That they acted on those opportunities. And that information provided by the Russian government became a prominent part of the Trump campaign. The only question in regards to collusion is in the extent to which the campaign worked with Russia to optimize the value of the information.
As more and more information has been revealed, the Trump response has moved through the stages from 1) didn’t do it, 2) did it, but it was all about adoption, 3) It was about Hillary but we didn’t get anything , 4) there was a folder of emails likely hacked from the DNC, but … something. All the while the list of who attended the meeting has expanded and the reasons behind it have become more clear and incriminating.
Meanwhile Team Trump has increasingly moved from “nothing to see” to “so what.” That’s been the focus of Trump’s tweets.
And it’s being repeated by other members of the administration. The emphasis has clearly turned from “no collusion” to “collusion is not a crime.”
But that didn’t happen overnight. Going back to at least the end of May, Fox News commentators suddenly began introducing the idea that collusion was an all-American activity.
"Collusion is not a crime, only an antitrust law," [Fox News host Gregg Jarrett] said on May 30. "You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election. There's no such statute."
Why has Fox News and other right wing media been warming up this idea for more than a month?
Given the eagerness with which the Trump campaign embraced the opportunity for collusion, and the number of previously unreported meetings that have already come out, it’s obvious that information produced since the Veselnitskaya meeting first emerged is only the tip of a very large iceberg.
What’s below the surface? The apparent chaos surrounding the reveal of the June 2016 meeting may make it seem that the White House is huddled down, waiting for the next blow. But a closer look shows that Trump is involved in an active defense. Since the president is immune from most criminal prosecution, the only real threat to Trump is political. Which means that his only immediate threat is being discovered in something so irregular that even Republican lawmakers feel compelled to move.
Which completely explains the program now underway to turn collusion from extraordinary to every day. From very near treason, to just good politics.
It’s a coordinated program that includes statements across the Trump campaign, from select Republican politicians outside the administration, and from the right wing news media. And it’s been underway for weeks.
Not only was Jarrett on the topic in May, he was joined by other Fox hosts.
During a panel on Fox News Sunday, former Washington, D.C., managing editor Brit Hume echoed several Fox hosts and contributors who have spoken over the past month.
People who work at the network have continued to raise the argument over whether such collusion would represent a crime.
That’s very interesting timing and it raises a very interesting question: Who told Fox News to start a campaign against that idea that collusion was a crime, and how much was Fox told about the level of collusion in the Trump regime?
Because it certainly looks as if Fox News was informed that evidence of collusion was coming out weeks before that knowledge became public. Then, instead of reporting on that information, Fox worked with the Trump regime to lessen the impact. That’s not reporting. It’s being part of the cover-up.
From almost the moment the meeting was revealed it was clear that the timeline that’s been given for Donald Trump’s learning about the meeting is another lie. It’s not just that Trump “coincidentally” announced he would reveal harmful information about Hillary Clinton immediately after he was told the Russian government was going to provide him with harmful information about Hillary Clinton. It’s not just that he tweeted about Hillary’s emails for the first time just minutes after the meeting broke up (assuming the meeting was actually as brief as we keep being told). It’s also that Donald Trump’s campaign began paying for Trump Jr’s defense weeks before this information came out. Likewise, Trump’s lawyers were given information on the meeting in June.
Fox News’ war on collusion-as-crime coming immediately in advance of this story breaking drops another coincidence on top of the growing pile.
The date at which Fox News began the effort to normalize collusion closely corresponds to the date we’ve been told that Jared Kushner’s lawyers “discovered” the emails related to the Veselnitskaya meeting — though that date has been notably vague. It seems clear that, despite the obvious missteps, the Trump regime has sought to manage and coordinate the release of information about the campaign’s collusion with Russia for a period of more than a month, and that Fox News was not just aware of this effort, but an active participant.
There is more than one type of collusion.
Who told Fox News to move from the position that there was no collusion, to the idea that collusion wasn’t wrong? How much information were they given to support that move? Why did they chose to actively participate in a deceptive propaganda campaign rather than revealing what they knew to the public?