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These Lines From the New York Times Story Should Leave You Scratching Your Head

By  |  July 11, 2017, 12:15pm  |  @ewerickson


There is an escalating drum beat on the New York Times story about Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer. But we need to slow the train down. Here is the most recent New York Times story with the most damaging information. Let’s walk through these paragraphs.

First paragraph:

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.

Got that? Donald Trump, Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort. Hold on to that a minute. Where did Trump, Jr. get the email? Here is the second paragraph:

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.

So the email that informed Trump, Jr. “the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy” came from Goldstone. Got it? Now the New York Times adds some meat to this story with the third paragraph:

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.

So Goldstone’s message “as described” indicated “the Russian government was the source” of information. Notice the second sentence reads as if it is a foregone conclusion that this dealing was a part of that wider effort.

Take those three paragraphs and what do we know:

Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump, Jr. (paragraph 2)
The email informed Trump, Jr. that the Russians had damaging information on Hillary Clinton. (paragraph 3)
The email made clear to Trump, Jr. that the Russians wanted to help his father’s campaign. (paragraph 1)

Now let’s go down to the ninth paragraph of the New York Times story:

It is unclear whether Mr. Goldstone had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material. One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been passed through several others.

So Goldstone did not even know if it was true? He might not have even had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material? But the Times just reported Goldstone said it was the Russians. So he might not have really known who it came from but the Times is asserting it as factual that Goldstone definitely told Trump, Jr. the Russians wanted to help his dad and had damaging material about Hillary Clinton?

Something just does not add up in this and it has nothing to do with Trump, Jr. and everything to do with anonymous sources building a rather inconsistent narrative to feed reporters. Goldstone, according to these sources, makes a whole lot of definitive pronouncements about information and its sources, but one person who has never even seen the email (“one person who was briefed”) offers up a guess as what Goldstone might not have known.

This story sounds like another bit of reporting first and figuring out the truth second.

Now, let’s go to near the bottom of the story and get these paragraphs about what Goldstone told the New York Times:

“He [a client of Goldstone’s] said, ‘I’m told she has information about illegal campaign contributions to the D.N.C.,’” Mr. Goldstone recalled, referring to the Democratic National Committee. He said he then emailed Donald Trump Jr., outlining what the lawyer purported to have.

But Mr. Goldstone, who wrote the email over a year ago, denied any knowledge of involvement by the Russian government in the matter, saying that never dawned on him. “Never, never ever,” he said. Later, after the email was described to The Times, efforts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.

So Goldstone denies it, someone told the Times it was unclear Goldstone knew about the Russians, and the New York Times is stating as fact that a memo its reporters did not see directly said the Russian government wanted to help Trump by handing over damaging information.

None of that is consistent with any other part of that, but that is all together what the Times has reported.