If there was no collusion, it wasn't for lack of trying

The revelation about the meeting with Veselnitskaya is the first concrete evidence of attempts at collusion during the presidential campaign. But it also, crucially, an instance of the scandal reaching into Trump’s family—his closest ring of advisers. Previous stories showed that Michael Flynn, the fired national-security adviser, had lied to the public, the vice president, and probably the FBI about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States and that Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials during the campaign. Kushner failed to disclose meetings with Russians after the election when applying for security clearance. Manafort faces several investigations. (Another, lower-level aide, Carter Page, is under investigation for questionable ties to Russia as well.)

The family tie becomes important if Trump Jr.’s second account of his meeting is taken at face value, which is admittedly challenging. He wants the public to believe that he, Kushner, and Manafort met with a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Trump’s opponent, but did not tell the candidate himself; that this happened even though Trump Jr. and Kushner are close to Trump Sr., and that Trump was at Trump Tower, the site of the meeting, that day, where he lunched with Manafort. In other words, it is difficult to believe that Donald Trump did not learn about the meeting soon after it happened. The president continues to question whether Russia really interfered in the election, so either he’s being disingenuous or his son and son-in-law have kept him in the dark. Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the president’s lawyer, said on Sunday that “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.” (On Monday morning, the Kremlin also denied knowledge of the meeting.)