NBC News may have just buried the lede in its new story about the Russia scandal.
The report from NBC focuses on some specific words that appeared in notes that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort took during a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. This was the meeting before which Donald Trump Jr. had been promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
But perhaps the more significant development is how NBC reported that Manafort had taken those notes: On his smartphone.
The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian had previously reported that Manafort took notes during the meeting — notes that naturally were of interest to investigators — but this appears to be the first report to indicate he did so using his phone.
Why is that significant? Because Manafort being on his phone was presented by both Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as evidence of his disinterest in the meeting. It was used to suggest that the meeting was rather insignificant — a disappointment to all involved — and didn’t go anywhere. Trump Jr. and others have said that the information promised was a bust and was never used by the Trump campaign, whatever their intent in accepting the meeting was.
“All the time [Manafort] was looking at his phone,” Veselnitskaya told NBC last month. “He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation.” She described Manafort as appearing “absent-minded.”
During an interview with…
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