Syndicated columnist and longtime Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer said that Donald Trump Jr.'s email revelation has changed the Russian collusion story for good.
Krauthammer had remained skeptical about President Donald Trump's connections with Russia during the campaign, but in his latest column, he argued that "bungled collusion is still collusion." Krauthammer admitted that this is a major change from his previous attitude.
"My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it," he said. "But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me."
"The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks," Krauthammer said. "This is an e-mail chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there’s a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a ‘Russian government attorney' possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton."
Krauthammer emphatically argued that the failure to find useful information did not absolve those involved. In his opinion, it was enough that Trump Jr. said "I love it" when he was told the Russian government had dirt on Clinton.
"It may turn out that they did later collaborate more fruitfully," Krauthammer said. "We don’t know. But even if nothing else is found, the evidence is damning."
He harshly criticized the Trump camp's willingness to work with the Russians. He said that Russia is "a hostile foreign power that has repeatedly invaded its neighbors (Georgia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine), that buzzes our planes and ships in international waters, that opposes our every move and objective around the globe."
Others on Fox News have continued to defend Trump, including host Sean Hannity. He has called this "collusion craziness" and said that the media is out to destroy Trump, while maintaining Trump Jr. has been transparent.
Hannity also had White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on his show Wednesday, when she said that collusion is "illusion and delusion." She also appeared on "Fox and Friends" Friday to criticize the media's coverage.
"The goal posts have been moved," she said. "We were promised hard evidence of systemic sustained furtive collusion."
Krauthammer's take on the scandal represents a major conservative voice shifting position on the collusion story that has gripped the left-wing and mainstream media for months.
"I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion," Krauthammer said in his conclusion. "But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead."