The Senate Intelligence Committee released records of its investigation into the infamous Trump Tower meeting today. The revelations are not limited to the fact that, after all this time, Team Trump's story is still that they didn't collude, because they tried to collude but they didn't get the goods. For example, the committee's report also suggests that it "has obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign."
But then there's also this little passage, as flagged on Twitter by The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay:
4:04 PM: Emin Agalarov calls Don Jr. to discuss Veselnitskaya meeting
4:27: Don. Jr has a four minute call with someone at a blocked number
4:31: Don Jr. calls back Agalarov
He told Senate investigators he didn't remember who was on that second call pic.twitter.com/12ru1fWAPo— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) May 16, 2018
As some have pointed out already, while the number is blocked to us, it might not be for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He may have the authority to subpoena the cellular provider involved, and if so, probably already has.
The committee did not exercise that power, but it does discuss its attempts to learn who exactly was at the end of that blocked number in the report:
Mr. Trump Jr.’s next call on June 6 was to a blocked number and lasted eleven minutes. When asked, Mr. Trump Jr. could not identify whom he called. Then when asked “does your father use a blocked number on his cell phone or any phones that you call him on?,” Mr. Trump Jr. responded, “I don’t know.” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, however, testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “[Donald] Trump’s ‘primary residence has a blocked [phone] line."
Well, isn't that something. This is hardly definitive proof that Junior called up Trump the Elder on June 6th when he got word a certain Russian lawyer was looking to meet because she had dirt on Hillary Clinton. But the committee also detailed how the meeting was fully set up by the following afternoon, June 7th. And they included this:
That same night, candidate Trump announced that he would be giving a “major
speech” the following Monday (four days after the June 9 meeting) where “we’re going
to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re
going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
All this matters because, if Junior called Senior and told him all about the meeting and its purpose in advance, that would indicate Donald Trump himself was fully aware of his campaign's efforts to coordinate with Russian figures to influence the 2016 election even before those efforts were carried out.
Junior, for his part, denies any of that went down:
Mr. Trump Jr. testified that he had “no idea” why his father announced that he would have “very interesting” information on Secretary Clinton.30 Mr. Trump Jr. said that
that he “never discussed [the meeting] with [his father] at all,” and that he did not know whether anyone else did.31
Whomever Junior did call, though, was clearly on board with the meeting. And after the meeting ended in frustration for the Trump campaign officials (Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer, produced no dirt and wanted to discuss repealing the Magnitsky Act, which tells its own story), Junior placed yet another call:
Two hours after the meeting, Mr. Trump Jr. placed another call to a blocked number, which lasted three minutes.
We still can't say for sure whether Trump Sr. knew of the Trump Tower meeting beforehand. But The Washington Post did report that Senior "dictated" Junior's misleading statement about it when the meeting first came to light, trying to pass it off as focusing on "Russian adoption." (This did, in fact, come up in the meeting, though it is directly related to the aforementioned Magnitsky Act.) Junior has denied his father drafted the statement, but then seemed to admit the opposite in his Senate testimony:
Don Jr. appears to have admitted to the Judiciary Committee that his father likely played a role in drafting that statement lying to America about the real reason for the Trump Tower meeting: pic.twitter.com/WFEo8Gl1up— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) May 16, 2018
Does any of this make you more confident that the president's campaign did not collude with representatives of a hostile foreign power to sway an American election, or that the candidate had no idea it was happening?