Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer identified what he called the "fatal words" in the emails released by Donald Trump Jr. in the Russian meeting controversy. He made the comments to Martha MacCallum on her show Tuesday on Fox News.
"Well, 'I love it' are the fatal words," he said, referring to the response Trump Jr. gave to the claim in the emails that he could obtain damaging intelligence on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
"The defense of the Trump administration for the last six months," he explained, "which I supported, was there doesn't appear to be a there there. I was saying this was a cover-up in search of a crime. There wasn't any evidence of collusion. There were lots of coincidences, lots of meetings, lots of non-disclosures. But that's all circumstantial."
Krauthammer said in June that there wasn't an "ounce of evidence" to the charges of Russian collusion.
"There was nothing to show that the Trump administration was aware of," he continued, "or supporting, the Russian interference in our elections."
"And this just showed up today in black and white, released by Don Jr. himself," he added. "This was not released, you know by the anti-Trump media. So you see it in black and white. This is not to say that collusion is a crime. It never was. But it is to say that the denial of collusion is very weak right now because it looks as if — I don't know that there's any other explanation — Don Jr. was receptive to receiving this information."
MacCallum interrupted and explained the minutiae of the story to Krauthammer in order to ask, "Is that in and of itself, you know, collusion, when there was absolutely no fruit from the actual meeting? There's nothing there after the meeting is over?"
"Well, it's a hell of a defense to say that your collusion was incompetent," Krauthammer replied, "and that it didn't work out."
"The fact is that this is not just opposition research," Krauthammer countered. "This is not someone coming out of the woodwork in Indiana where the story of the Clintons [came from]."
"This is a foreign power," he said, referring to the Russian Federation. "And not just any foreign power. An adversary foreign power. A foreign power that invades our allies. In Georgia, in Ukraine. Buzzes our airplanes. Just last week in the U.N., it nixed any attempt to get sanctions increased on North Korea."
"That supports a genocidal regime in Syria," he continued. "This is our most serious adversary, one could argue, in a world. And to receive information with them.
"But here's the deal," he added, "they denied they did this. They agreed with the critics, today's critics, that this is a bad thing to do, and they were saying for six months, 'we didn't do it. There's no evidence we did it. How could you even imagine that we did it.'
"Now they're saying, 'Oh yeah, we did it, but it wasn't so bad, and we were incompetent at it.' That's not a very good defense," he concluded.
Trump Jr. was forced to divulge his emails discussing a meeting with a Russian lawyer weeks after his father secured the Republican nomination in the presidential election. The New York Times has pummeled the White House with stories on the meeting some say was unethical.
In an exclusive interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Tuesday night, Trump Jr. admitted that in retrospect, he would have treated the matter much differently.