Boom! Linchpin of conspiracy theory about Russia collusion at Trump Tower meeting blows up

In the fever swamps of Trump Derangement Syndrome, a key part of the catechism of ‘Russia collusion’ has been the belief that candidate Donald Trump was plugged-into the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Russians dangled the prospect of dirt on Hillary Clinton before Donald Trump, Jr. (In fact, the Russians had nothing to offer and were pushing for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act – which hasn’t happened.)

The conspiracy theorists seized on Trump Jr’s cell phone records, showing two calls to blocked numbers. Aha! The candidate must have been preparing his son for the meeting, himself collaborating! Why else would people block their numbers? It shows intent to conspire (or something). Of course, in the real world, lots of people have blocked numbers for all sorts of reasons, but in the minds of conspiracy theorists, ordinary things can take on extraordinary significance – if you are sufficiently woke.

But yesterday, someone privy to the information held by the Senate Intelligence Committee leaked the Awful Truth to CNN, who reported it (credit to CNN for not burying it) with sad faces:

Senate investigators have obtained new information showing Donald Trump Jr.'s mysterious phone calls ahead of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting were not with his father, three sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee show the calls were between Trump Jr. and two of his business associates, the sources said, and appear to contradict Democrats' long-held suspicions that the blocked number was from then-candidate Donald Trump.

The information came to light recently and could answer one of the key questions over the meeting Trump's eldest son set up to get Russian dirt on the Clinton campaign. Trump Jr.'s phone calls involving blocked numbers -- meaning the numbers are private and do not appear in the phone records -- have been a lingering issue as investigators have probed the meeting and whether Trump himself had advance knowledge through any means that his son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr.'s phone records included calls with two blocked phone numbers the same day he exchanged calls with Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, the son of a Russian oligarch who spearheaded the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The calls came three days before the Trump Tower meeting, and an additional call with a private number occurred several hours after the meeting.

CNN has not confirmed the identity of the business associates who spoke with Trump Jr. nor what they discussed on the calls. The purpose of the calls and their relevance to the Trump Tower meeting and the Russia investigation is still unclear. Trump Jr. attorney Alan Futerfas declined to comment.

Of course, to the fevered minds of conspiracy theorists the lack of evidence is just proof of the deviousness of the conspirators. So don’t expect any apologies or retractions.

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