The Media Today: NYT lands another scoop in escalating Russia investigation

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I had planned to focus today’s newsletter on something other than the presidency, but the drip, drip, drip of news from Washington once again became a torrent following The New York Times’s third straight day of reporting on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer. After months of speculation over whether the Trump team had actual knowledge of Russia’s campaign to influence the election, the quadruple-bylined story that dropped last night around 9 pm stated: “Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.

The Times’s Matt Apuzzo, Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Maggie Haberman take pains not to overstate the implications of their reporting, noting that “there is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.” At the same time, they write that the communication between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, the publicist who arranged the meeting, will likely be of interest to those investigating whether any attempt at collusion between President Trump’s associates and agents of the Russian government existed.

In a sign of how seriously some on the right are taking the news, Drudge Report gave the story top billing, with a picture of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square above a link to the Times’s report.For months, supporters of the president have argued that the media and chattering class have been screaming “Fire!” in the presence of little more than a whiff of smoke. We still haven’t seen the email Don Jr. received, but the Times’s story is the first evidence that a member of Trump’s inner circle had knowledge of a Russian effort to aid the campaign. Whether this was an isolated encounter or part of a larger series of communications remains to be seen. As Adam Goldman, one of the reporters on the story, tweeted shortly after it posted, “Update: I am still reporting.

Below, more on the reaction to the Times’s reporting and the newfound focus on Donald Trump Jr.

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Pete Vernon is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.