The recently released emails between Donald Trump Jr. and Trump family friend Rob Goldstone are intriguing to some of us  — because of what is not in them.  

Last Monday’s New York Times headline announced “Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign.” The first paragraph of the story said:

“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…”

From the headline and the story, you might get the impression that this was the very first email — or communication of any kind — “informing” Don Jr. that Russia was helping his father. And Don Jr. has promoted that impression.

Right after Trump Jr. was told that the Times was going to publish the contents of his emails, he tweeted “in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016.”

And that same day he told Sean Hannity that “everything is now public.”  

Everything? A close reading of Goldstone’s communication suggests otherwise. As you can see from his email (reprinted in full below), Goldstone is clearly pleased to be the bearer of good news to the Trump camp — but his news is not presented as the thunderbolt suggested by the Times story.

There’s no Guess what! The Kremlin is going to support your father!!! It seems to be part of an ongoing conversation. Indeed, it’s written as if Goldstone takes for granted that Trump already knows the Russians are helping his father’s campaign in various ways.

Jun 3, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:

Good morning

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.

What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.


Rob Goldstone

Don Jr. is clearly pleased. But does not act like he has just learned the astonishing fact that his father has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jun 3, 2016, at 10:53, Donald Trump Jr. wrote back as if this were the most normal thing in the world:

Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?



To scope out what might be behind this curious lack of surprise in Trump Jr.’s response, go back to his tweet about being “totally transparent” and focus on the qualification: What he’s really saying is that he is releasing all emails specifically about that one meeting. Which may or may not be the truth. But that lawyerly qualification leaves a lot of room to hide previous communications about Russia’s sub rosa support of Trump.

We are not alone in noticing something amiss here. Ari Melber raised the issue. On the All In With Chris Hayes program on July 17, Matthew Miller — former chief spokesman for the Justice Department, currently MSNBC’s justice and security analyst  —  was asked by Melber (sitting in for Hayes) whether the emails seemed like a “one off out of the blue… or do they read to you like an ongoing conversation?” Ari Melber noticed!  

But to Miller, Goldstone’s email sounded like a “first outreach from the Russians.”

Really? Such a casual way to broach a secret intervention by Putin’s Russia to elect Trump over his Democratic rival? What’s missing are the kinds of words people use when first discussing such a huge move. Instead, this correspondence is just about the particulars. These emails not only imply prior collusion, they suggest it has been going on for some time.


  • Milicent Cranor

    Milicent Cranor is a senior editor at WhoWhatWhy. She has worked as a creative editor at E.P. Dutton, a comedy ghostwriter, and editor of consequential legal and scientific documents. She has also co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles for medical journals.

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