Fox News tried to spin Trump Jr.’s email dump as good news — then gave up

Happening now.

Screenshot: Fox News
Screenshot: Fox News

Donald Trump Jr.’s decision to release copies of his emails planning a meeting with a Russian lawyer with ties to Vladimir Putin via Twitter Tuesday morning roiled the media and political worlds. After months of discussion, the abrupt publication of emails that pointed to collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government was difficult to process.

On Fox News, especially, it was a struggle.

Anchor Julie Banderas cut into a discussion with two guests about how the initial New York Times article about the meeting was less damaging than expected, with news of the Trump Jr. emails.

“I need to interrupt you both now because now, Donald Trump Jr. has just in fact dumped his email and full email chain on Twitter,” she said.

The anchor and guests began to grapple with this development, as Banderas summarized what is in the emails reading off her phone. She framed it initially as a media success for Trump, saying “the New York Times has been pretty much put at a halt here as far as any speculation surrounding what was said.”

She argued that the story seemed to line up with Trump Jr.’s lawyer’s statement and asked McCormack, “Does this get him a bit out of this mess?”

He replied that “it could,” compared this story to former President Bill Clinton’s legal troubles, and considered whether Trump Jr.’s decision to reveal the emails could be legally helpful. Banderas then cut in again: “I need to give you more information because this is coming in as we’re speaking here.”

“Taking a deeper look at this email, it might not look so good for Donald Trump Jr.,” Banderas continued. “First of all, the Times now has the email to Donald Trump Jr. offering Russia aid and in the email, they basically say they want to incriminate Hillary — nothing wrong with that if he wants to meet with someone who has damaging information on a political rival, nothing wrong with that — a hostile foreign government having information, that wants to help a political campaign, yes, there’s a problem with that. Here is Donald Trump, Jr.,’s reply and I’m quoting out of his email that he in fact just posted on Twitter, quote: ‘If it’s what you say, I love it.’”

Banderas and Woodruff then discussed how they believed that while the emails did not constitute proof of a deal in exchange for favors, “it doesn’t look good” that he was dealing with a Russian lawyer tied to Putin.

Woodruff said it was “perplexing” as to why Trump Jr. would post the emails to Twitter hoping it would exonerate him.

“The fact that Don Jr., showed this email where he says ‘I love it,’ that someone might have information from a foreign source that a foreign person might have information damaging to his father’s political opponent, in that email chain itself I don’t know for sure if there was anything illegal that happened, but there was certainly nothing helpful.” Woodruff said. “This certainly doesn’t make Don, Jr.,’s life easier. This makes it harder.”

Banderas then read off Trump Jr.’s next tweet decrying the “left” for preferring to see “America suffer and fail than to see it succeed with Donald Trump at the helm” in an almost grieving, wistful tone. (It was actually a tweet he posted in May and pinned to the top of his account.)

Afterward, the network returned to the news, but only after airing over 20 minutes of long commercial breaks and segments on a deadly plane crash, a U.S. soldier arrested for allegedly supporting ISIS, and the GOP health care bill.

At an off-camera press conference, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from the president on the news: “my son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” and stood by the White House’s assertion it did not collude with Russia during the election.