Regular readers know that I've been rather tough on Team Trump when their Russiagate spin doesn't add up. In recent weeks, I've hit them pretty hard on the Donald Jr. story, and flagged additional problems for the Attorney General. But my consistent, overarching theme on the Russia matter is that we ought to follow all of the facts and let investigators do their work. When exculpatory evidence surfaces, that should matter just as much as when new information looks damning -- unless, of course, you have a pre-determined agenda, as seems to be the case with many in the press. That said, good for the Washington Post to run with a story that disrupts the collusion storyline in which so many of their colleagues are heavily invested. Email records prove that Russian government envoys tried to open private lines of communication with the Trump campaign, and were rebuffed:
Writes Allahpundit, "not only weren’t [Trump campaign bosses] interested, they were mindful of proper protocol: At least one advisor noted that meetings with a foreign state would raise Logan Act questions while another mentioned that U.S. allies should be notified before any Russia meetings happened." That...doesn't sound like the behavior of an operation intent on collaborating with an adversarial foreign government, does it? Again, none of this erases Manafort's sketchiness or the now-infamous Trump Jr. meeting (and subsequent lies about it). Those still exist and still look bad. But countervailing evidence matters, too.
These freshly-revealed emails look like a conscientious campaign doing the right thing and expressing appropriate skepticism when approached about opportunities to huddle with the Russians. You can argue that maybe they turned down these contacts because they were involved with the Kremlin at a higher level elsewhere, but there's no proof of that. You can also contend, as WaPo's story does, that this further demonstrates Moscow's keen interest in establishing ties with the Trump camp. That's fine, but that Russian interest would need to have been improperly reciprocated and acted upon to be a scandal. Collusion requires at least two parties, by definition. So this strand of evidence cuts in Trump's favor. That is relevant, and ought to impact the trajectory of The Narrative. And so should this, via Politico:
Russia's interference occurred on Obama's watch, and here we have a sizable group of national security professionals assessing that the previous administration didn't confront the problem with sufficient seriousness. Why not? Was Obama still wrapped up in a 'Russia-is-no-biggie' mentality, which formed the basis for his dismissive ridicule of Mitt Romney's more realistic view of Putin's threat? Was he still clinging to the failed "reset," of which Hillary Clinton was the chief architect? Or did he just arrogantly assume -- especially during the campaign -- that Democrats would retain the White House, so poking the Russian bear wasn't worth it? Especially when there were other priorities at hand:
Source: Town Hall