Special counsel Robert Mueller thought he had the smoking gun.
The Trump campaign had a closed-door meeting with the Russians in 2016 that investigators believed could be evidence of collusion.
Now all the facts are out and one witness’s testimony just determined whether this meeting could lead to Trump’s impeachment.
A Controversial Trump Tower Meeting
In early June 2016, music producer Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump, Jr. proposing a meeting with a Russian lawyer.
The producer, who knew the Trumps from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant which had taken place in Moscow, claimed the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary.
Goldstone emailed Trump, Jr. this pitch as to why the campaign should take the meeting:
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.
Trump, Jr. responded that the campaign would accept to meet.
The Facts Blow up The Collusion Narrative
When the media broke the story about this meeting, journalists quickly speculated that Goldstone’s email was the smoking gun.
The press – and investigators – focused in on Goldstone claiming the Russian government was supporting the campaign.
But the meeting ended up being a giant nothing burger.
All the participants testified that the true purpose of the meeting was for the Russians to pitch the Trump campaign on lifting sanctions pertaining to Russian adoption.
The Russians did not offer any dirt on Hillary Clinton.
As for Goldstone, he testified that he really didn’t have any evidence to back up his claim that the Russian government supported Trump.
Goldstone told Congressional investigators he only wrote that because he had seen Russian officials on TV speak favorably of Trump.
What I meant in that was that I had been, at that time, probably 12 or 13 times to Russia, including I had been in Russia with Mr. Trump during the Miss Universe Organization pageant. I had seen and heard first hand people of all levels, whether it was business people, whether it was friends of Emin, friends of his father, talk in very glowing terms about Mr. Trump. I had also seen on television in Russia many, many reports in which government officials, including the President, Mr. Putin, had praised Mr. Trump, who, in turn, I had seen on CNN had praised Mr. Putin.
So what I was trying to say there was, look, here, Emin may have this information. This is yet another example of Russian support for you and your father.
Anti-Trump journalists were sure the Trump Tower meeting was proof of collusion.
Mueller and the Democrats hoped to use it as grounds for impeachment.
But like every other Russia “bombshell,” the story collapsed under the weight of the facts.