The Evolution of Collusion

Donald Trump, his campaign, and his administration have repeatedly claimed for more than a year that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Trump himself calls the ongoing investigation a “witch hunt,” “nonsense,” and “fake news.”

Now, even with hard evidence that his son and top campaign officials eagerly sought information from the Russian government and were told explicitly that the Russian government was trying to help, the denials and the lies continue.

“Newsflash: the Trumps can’t keep their story straight because they’re lying and trying to cover their tracks,” said American Bridge Rapid Response Director Emily Aden. “Seven different explanations about this secret meeting in as many days is outrageous even for Trump. What happened was likely illegal and treasonous, and the President must be held accountable for these actions as well as the subsequent cover-up.”

So far, Trump and his family have already shifted their story a whopping seven times in just one week. Here’s what we know as of this morning:

First, Donald Trump Jr. said he met with a Russian lawyer at the behest of an acquaintance and asked Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner to attend. He claimed the meeting was about adoption. The lawyer was identified as Natalia Veselnitskaya who had ties to the Kremlin.

Second, Donald Trump Jr. admitted he arranged the meeting after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton at the behest of a friend from the Miss Universe pageant in 2013, but the Russian lawyer did not provide helpful information. The intermediary was identified as music publicist Rob Goldstone and a spokesman maintained Donald Trump was unaware of the meeting.

Third, Donald Trump Jr. released his emails about the meeting to preempt another New York Times story.

Fourth, the emails show Goldstone identified the source of the information to Donald Trump Jr. as Emin Agalarov after “the Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras” and “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.”

  • MEET ARAS: Aras Agalarov is a billionaire Russian developer who worked closely with Donald Trump on the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow and was awarded an Order of Honor of the Russian Federation by Vladimir Putin shortly after the pageant.

Fifth, the emails explicitly state the information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” and identified the Russian lawyer as “a Russian government attorney.”

Sixth, Donald Trump contradicts his lawyer and son and implies he may have known about the meeting. He said, “In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point.”

Seventh, a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akkmetshin confirmed he was in the meeting too.