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Trump Jr. defends Russia meeting in interview
01:25 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Donald Trump Jr. has offered a series of explanations over the past 72 hours for why he met with a Russian lawyer who purported to have information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He tried out his latest one with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t know if there was any credibility, I didn’t know if there was anything behind it, I can’t vouch for the information,” Trump Jr. said. “Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly.”

By this explanation, Trump Jr. is blameless because all he did was respond to an email – promising info on Clinton – from Rob Goldstone, a publicist for a wealthy musician.

It’s just not that simple – or anywhere close – for Trump Jr., however.

First – and most important: Getting an email is one thing. Quickly responding to it to set up a phone call or a meeting is another. The first is passive. Someone sends you an email. The second is active. You act on the email, setting up a meeting to get the information. Two very different things.

The latter is what Trump Jr. did here. Not only did he respond to the email to set up a meeting but he also seemed to suggest to Goldstone that he’d “love it” if the information on Clinton was as bad as Goldstone promised. (Goldstone had said it was “incriminating” in a previous email.)

That’s enough to put the lie to Trump Jr.’s all-I-did-was-get-an-email! explanation. But Trump Jr. also had plenty of other information via previous emails from Goldstone that made him something less than just a guy who got an email.

Goldstone had already told Trump Jr. that the information had likely come from a Russian prosecutor from a meeting with Aras Agalarov, a Russian real estate tycoon whose son, Emin, the musician, employs Goldstone. Not only that, but Goldstone had told Trump Jr. in a previous email that “this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“Part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” It’s very hard to misinterpret that. It’s a direct statement from Goldstone, who Trump Jr. has known since at least 2013, about where the information is coming from and what the goal of passing it along to the Trump campaign is.

This is not Trump Jr. flying blind off of an email “someone” sent him. Not even close. Trump Jr. knew the sender. He knew what was promised by the sender. He made clear he was excited to get it. And, even with ALL of that, he STILL didn’t need to set up a meeting. But he did.

Which tells you everything you need to know about how lame his latest explanation actually is.