Apparently, it's harder to get a table at Applebee's on a Monday night than it is to get into a Trump Tower meeting with Russian agents.
No sooner had a fifth attendee at Donald Trump Jr.'s collusion confab been revealed than Junior's lawyer called in to NBC News to add that a sixth person had been at the meeting, as well. At this rate, that meeting will end up larger than Trump's inauguration.
In rather dramatic fashion, “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist broke the news to reporter Peter Alexander, live on the air, that a sixth unidentified person was at that meeting:
“I wanted to jump in here, even as you are reading that statement. We have an update from Alan Futerfas, and I'll just read it to you. You've read the statement. He has now called us back at NBC News with a clarification. He now says there was a third person in that room.”
Until we find out later today that there is a C-Span 6 that carried a live stream of the meeting, we have the next best thing in identifying that sixth person, and the likely reason Junior's lawyer felt the need to call in and amend his statement.
When news of the emails first broke, The Response noted that there were at least two attendees on the Russian side, because talent agent Rob Goldstone told Don Jr. that he would “send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.”
We now know that the second person was a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer. It now appears that Junior's lawyer revealed the existence of a sixth attendee because Don Jr. already blurted it out on live television, during an interview on Tuesday night's “Hannity” (emphasis added):
We were all there. I was basically sitting there, listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who had set up the meeting. And you know, in his own words, you can hear what he said, and you played it earlier, about it. I mean, he apologized to me walking out of the meeting basically for wasting my time.
At the time, I wondered if that might mean that Goldstone was the fifth mystery attendee, but it didn't make sense that Goldstone would refer to sending his own name to Trump Tower security. In light of Futerfas's revelation, and Don Jr.'s own words, it appears that Goldstone was actually the sixth attendee at that meeting.
In fact, before the emails came out, Goldstone gave an interview to The New York Times in which he described the meeting as if he had been present:
Mr. Goldstone said Ms. Veselnitskaya offered “just a vague, generic statement about the campaign’s funding and how people, including Russian people, living all over the world donate when they shouldn’t donate” before turning to her anti-Magnitsky Act arguments.
“It was the most inane nonsense I’ve ever heard,” he said. “And I was actually feeling agitated by it. Had I, you know, actually taken up what is a huge amount of their busy time with this nonsense?”
Goldstone also showed a willingness to lie for the Trumps in that meeting — lies which were later contradicted by Goldstone's own emails — which is an indication that there is likely much more to the meeting than any of these people are saying now.
This is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it demonstrates that the Trump team is more inept at covering up than Steve Bannon in a gauze thong. Goldstone's email chain clearly demonstrates foreknowledge, by Trump's campaign, of an ongoing Russian effort to aid Trump. The media has largely ignored this fact in favor of giving the cover story equal time, but investigators will not be so kind.
More significantly, though, if Goldstone was at the meeting, he becomes yet another weak link for investigators to tug at, and he doesn't have the same pressure to stick to the official story that the other attendees have.
This is a commentary piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.