Despite the fact that the Mueller report proved there was no collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, Democrats were convinced that there was more evidence out there, perhaps in the tiny fraction of the report that was redacted for national security reasons, that proved Trump actually did collude with the Russians.
It turns out that the most interesting things about Mueller’s investigation were not what was redacted from the report, but what wasn’t included in the first place. According to investigative reporter John Solomon, Bob Mueller hid evidence exonerating Donald Trump Jr. over the infamous Trump Tower meeting, during which Democrats were convinced he had met with a Russian lawyer to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The most scintillating information Mueller’s team ascribed to [Russian translator Anatoli] Samochornov in the report was a tidbit suggesting a hint of impropriety: The translator admitted he was offered $90,000 by the Russians to pay his legal bills, if he supported the story of Moscow attorney Natalia Veselnitskya. He declined.
But recently released FBI memos show that Samochornov, a translator trusted by the State Department and other federal agencies, provided agents far more information than was quoted by Mueller, nearly all of it exculpatory to the president’s campaign and his eldest son.
Despite learning the translator’s information on July 12, 2017, just a few days after the media reported on the Trump Tower meeting, the FBI would eventually suggest Donald Trump Jr. was lying and that the event could be seminal to Russian election collusion.
Samochornov’s eyewitness account entirely debunks the media’s narrative, the FBI memos show.
“Samochornov was not particularly fond of Donald Trump Jr., but stated Donald Trump Jr.’s account with Veselnitskya as portrayed in recent media report, was accurate,” according to the FBI 302 report on its interview of the translator. “Samachornov concurred with Donald Trump Jr.’s accounts of the meeting. He added ‘they’ were telling the truth.”
According to Donald Trump Jr., the short Trump Tower meeting was about the Magninsky Act, and how that affected adoption practices between the United States and Russia. That explanation was mocked by the media and the Democrats at the time, and that story was a cover-up for a key piece of evidence of Russian collusion.
“Samochornov could not speak about other occasions, but said there was no discussion about the 2016 United States presidential election or collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign at the meeting,” according to the FBI report. “There was no smoking gun, according to Samochornov. There was not a discussion about dirt on Hillary Clinton. Samochornov did not think Hillary Clinton was mentioned by name at the meeting.”
“Samochornov had not heard Veselnitskya say anything about having ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskya did not offer any materials during the meeting and no papers were exchanged.”
Solomon notes that “the belated release of the FBI interview report under a Freedom of Information Act request is likely to raise serious questions among congressional oversight committees about why the information was suppressed in the Mueller report, why the FBI kept it quiet for two years while Trump Jr. was being politically pilloried, and why the news media has failed to correct its own record of misleading reporting.”
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis