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The Consequences of Donald Trump Jr.’s Stupidity

In May 1895, Ohio’s Republican Governor William McKinley, a presidential aspirant for the forthcoming presidential campaign year, dispatched his trusted lieutenant, Mark Hanna, to New York to solicit support from the big Northeastern GOP bosses. These men—New York’s Thomas Platt, Pennsylvania’s Matthew Quay, and a number of lesser lights—controlled enough patronage power to hold major sway over party decisions. McKinley figured that, if he could get their support, he might lock up the Republican nomination before the campaign even began.

During a post-dinner cigar session at his elegant Cleveland mansion, Hanna reported back to McKinley on the results of his mission. Another participant recalled that the excited Hanna seemed “as keen as a razor blade.’’

“Now, Major,” said the political operative, addressing the governor by his Civil War title, “it’s all over but the shouting. You can get both New York and Pennsylvania, but there are certain conditions.” He didn’t show any discomfort with the conditions, but McKinley was wary.      

“What are they?” he asked. Hanna explained that Quay wanted control of all federal patronage in Pennsylvania, while others wanted to dominate government jobs in New England and Maine. But Platt wanted a bigger prize—the job of secretary of the Treasury—and he wanted a promise in writing.

McKinley stared ahead, puffing on his cigar. Then he rose from his chair, paced the room a few moments, and turned to Hanna.

“Mark,” he said, “there are some things in this world that come too high. If I were to accept the nomination on those terms, the place would be worth nothing to me, and less to the people. If those are the terms, I am out of it.’’

Hanna was taken aback. “Not so fast,” he protested, explaining that, while it would be “damned hard” to prevail over the powerful bosses, who would surely not take kindly to a rebuff, Hanna thought it could be done and he welcomed the challenge. The men in the room pondered the situation and came up with a slogan: “The People Against the Bosses.’’

McKinley ultimately beat the bosses, stirring a Washington Post reporter to write that “the big three of the Republican Party…hoped to find McKinley as putty in their hands. When they failed, they vowed war on him.” But now, said the reporter, their war was sputtering. “And over in the Ohio city by the lake, one Mark Hanna is laughing in his sleeve.’’

This little vignette from the mists of the political past comes to mind with the latest development in the ongoing saga involving suspected Russian interference in last year’s presidential campaign and the search for evidence that President Trump or his top campaign officials “colluded” with Russians to influence the electoral outcome. Now it turns out that the president’s son, Donald Jr., met with a Russian lawyer, at the behest of a friend with Russian connections, with an understanding beforehand that the lawyer could provide “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and be very useful to your father.” For good measure, Donald Jr. took along his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top Trump adviser, and his father’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort.

This is no small matter, and it is certain to roil the waters of the ongoing investigations. More significantly, it will roil the political scene, contributing mightily to the deadlock crisis that has America in its grip. White House officials and Trump supporters are defending young Trump with pronouncements that nothing was amiss here; every campaign collects dirt on opponents; nothing done was against the law; we must get beyond these “gotcha” political witch hunts, etc., etc.

Meanwhile. Trump opponents see skulky tendencies, nefarious intent, moral turpitude, and likely illegality. Both sides are trotting out criminal lawyers declaring, based on their prior political proclivities, that no laws were broken—or that laws were clearly broken. The cable channels are crackling with competition over who can be more definitive and sanctimonious on the air—Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity at Fox in defending the president; or Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews in attacking him on MSNBC.

Meanwhile, the country will continue to struggle with the question of what all this Sturm und Drang actually means. What to think? Whom to believe?

Let’s stipulate, for purposes of analysis, that what we see is what there is, that what we know is not a harbinger of worse to come. How should we assess what we know thus far? What should we make of that meeting with the Russian lawyer?

That it was, yes, ethically promiscuous—but, worse, incredibly stupid. One recalls the line, often incorrectly attributed to Talleyrand, in response to a burgeoning scandal at the French court: “It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.’’

Consider that, after months of investigation, with leaks all over the place from those conducting the probe, no serious evidence emerged of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The collusion story was receding in the national consciousness, and even in the Washington consciousness, with questions of “obstruction of justice” supplanting collusion as the more significant avenue of inquiry. Now the question of collusion is once again in the air.

The fate of Donald Trump Jr. is a puny matter in the scheme of things, but the state of the union is a huge matter. And the young man’s stupidity of a year ago will have—indeed, is already having—a significant impact on the president’s leadership. He campaigned on a pledge to improve relations with Russia, with an implicit acknowledgment that the West was probably equally responsible, along with Moscow, for the growing tensions between the two nations. He was right about that. Then came the evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and the allegations of collusion, and Trump’s effort at improving relations was killed in the crib.

But he didn’t give up. At last week’s G-20 Summit in Hamburg, in a long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump sought to get beyond the matter of Russia’s U.S. political interference and take up other serious matters of mutual interest to the two countries, with a hope of easing tensions. It was an important development in a crucial area of U.S. foreign policy.

Now the president is back on the defensive, his back to the wall, with his opponents positioned to immobilize him on his Russian policy.

Now let’s set aside, for just a moment, the previous stipulation that what we see is all there is. It’s possible, of course, that this unfortunate meeting actually was part of a much bigger conspiracy that, if disclosed in full, could engulf the administration in revelations of such magnitude as to bring down the president. It’s possible, but not likely.

But, in terms of Trump’s command of his policy toward Russia, it almost doesn’t matter because the new revelations will constrict his range of action irrespective of what may lie behind them. The forces that have wanted to destroy the president, or at least destroy his ability to bring about a détente with Putin, are once again in the saddle. One has to wonder at, perhaps even marvel at, the timing in all this.

Actions, even more than ideas, have consequences. That’s what Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort ignored when they accepted an invitation to meet with a Russian representative with “official documents” that could harm the candidacy of the Democratic contender.

And that’s precisely what William McKinley had in mind when he said he wouldn’t enter into unsavory bargains with the Eastern bosses even if it meant giving up his presidential dream. Of course, McKinley was thinking in part about his own personal code of conduct—his inability to live with a decision that was beneath his concept of rectitude. But note that he also invoked the American people when he recoiled at the thought. He wouldn’t take an action that he considered inconsistent with his duty to the electorate.

That was a long time ago—and a world away. Today we have the likes of the Trumps—and, for that matter, the Clintons, who leave nearly everyone in their wake when it comes to moral and ethical laxity in matters of public policy. And so it must have seemed perfectly normal for those three men, part of Donald Trump’s inner circle of campaign confidantes, to accept the idea of sitting down with someone from a foreign power and talk about how official documents from that power could help upend their opponent. Did Trump himself know about all this as it was unfolding? We don’t know, but probably. In any event, it probably wasn’t a crime, but it was a hell of a blunder.       

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative. His next book, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century [1], is due out from Simon & Schuster in November.

45 Comments (Open | Close)

45 Comments To "The Consequences of Donald Trump Jr.’s Stupidity"

#1 Comment By WorkinClass On July 11, 2017 @ 11:44 pm

Young Trump was digging for dirt on Hillary. The polite term is “opposition research”. Yes it’s a dirty business but EVERY presidential campaign does it. The interview with the Russians turned out to be a dead end. A waste of time. No dirt. It’s not illegal, and not unusual.

Be careful what you wish for. When you succeed in driving Trump from office there will be hell to pay.

#2 Comment By Dan A. Davis On July 11, 2017 @ 11:44 pm

Ever more with the Trump moral and mental cesspool, one must recall, “Stupid is as Stupid does.”

#3 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 12, 2017 @ 1:26 am

“In any event, it probably wasn’t a crime, but it was a hell of a blunder.”

It’s hard to argue with the above.

Goodness everything they needed was readily available, in my view.

#4 Comment By genetuttle On July 12, 2017 @ 5:09 am

I appreciate Mr. Merry’s attempt at balance here, but the anecdote doesn’t quite apply. In Candidate McKinley’s case, his operative got the dirt and took it to McKinley, who rejected it. At least according to information presently available, Trump’s operative (his son) was willing to listen to intermediary promising dirt. He didn’t get any, so went no further.

In an ideal political culture, perhaps, candidates would not be on the look-out for political dirt on their opponents. In the real culture, the question of whether or not the search for dirt is smartly pursued takes on more importance, as Merry suggests. Trump Jr. was apparently not being smart (i.e. he got caught.) But, on the McKinley analogy again, unlike the latter’s use of a pro, Trump Jr. was a newcomer to politics, an amateur advising a father who had never ruin for political office.

Merry’s unfortunately right in suggesting that such distractions will not make it easier to work with Russia in the many common areas of interest, not to mention other issues like immigration that have nothing to do with Russia.

#5 Comment By New York Lefty On July 12, 2017 @ 5:26 am

I warned you guys about this con man but you wouldn’t listen.
Now you’re going to pay the price, Trump destroys everything he touches. I hope it’s not too late for the rest of us.

#6 Comment By Conewago On July 12, 2017 @ 8:13 am

Mr. Merry:

Is the Hanna-McKinley anecdote from your book? If so, I must read it.

#7 Comment By Donald ( the one on the left) On July 12, 2017 @ 8:38 am

Some lawyer correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the crime here the coverup and not the collusion? The Trump people knew this looke bad, so they lied about it happening. If they lied about it on a document, then that’s perjury. Again, though, I am not a lawyer.

#8 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On July 12, 2017 @ 8:47 am

forget the moral, ethical or legal context (did he break the law?), the problem and threat presented by the Trump campaign and its surrogates is related to ignorance as opposed to malfeasance.  as the Speaker of the House has argued, the POTUS is “new” at this (governing).  as such, he is overmatched and woefully unprepared for “executing the office of the POTUS”.  this is no more evident in terms of intelligence (as a tactical tool, not his personal intellect, but I digress).  campaign/administration members with government/intelligence/military experience (Flynn, Page, Sessions) have to know they are/were targets for the intelligence services of foreign powers – this is why, when applying for security clearance, and in the case of sessions, confirmation hearings – they asked to note ANY CONTACT WITH FOREIGN NATIONALS.  and ultimately, it doesn’t matter who won the election – it was a win/win for the Russians, as if their candidate (Trump) wins, they have “blackmail” potential on key members of the administration (if not the POTUS).  as noted in other TAC posts, the key to a successful “black op” is baiting unwitting targets with information they are led to believe serves their interests, when in reality, establishing a relationship with said targets serves the interests of the foreign power.  I guess, to their credit, being devoid of any ethical, moral or legal constraints (and as evidenced by “Junior” Tweeting the emails), the current Administration appears to be immune to blackmail.  but again, as noted, regardless of motive – an ignorant “asset” is just as valuable as a malevolent asset (in terms of Russia)

#9 Comment By mf On July 12, 2017 @ 10:03 am

your article is a more true reflection of the predicament our country is in. You have already embraced as your standard bearer a demonstrated public liar who used overt racism to appeal to the worst in that part of American public that might be inclined towards the worst when properly incited. You are normalizing this for political gain as is the God forsaken party that you support. The same person that you support is normalizing South American level of graft and corruption in American politics, and you are supporting him as an alleged “Conservative”.
This, not gridlock, is the threat to the Republic. There will be some economic consequences of continuing gridlock. Perhaps serious ones. However, consequences of normalizing Trump will be the end of the Republic, a slide into a northern version of a cross between Brazil and Argentina.
You are not a conservative by any stretch of imagination. You are politically corrupt, that is all.

#10 Comment By Ted On July 12, 2017 @ 10:38 am

One thing I’ve marveled at from those on the right is this complete willingness to accept the story of Don Jr, Kushner, Manafort and the Russian lawyer about the details of the meeting. We know they lied about the meeting, repeatedly and in many ways. Why do they just accept that this meeting was unproductive or in isolation? How can you have any confidence that you are not being lied to again? It’s not like he just lied to the MSM, he lied to all of us. Kushner lied to all of us.

Then you have Trump tweeting about Hillary’s emails ten minutes after this meeting supposedly ended, and promising a big release of information four days after the meeting. The timeline of events, Wikileaks started releasing emails three weeks later, etc. Is just so suspicious.

I am one liberal who actually didn’t believe any of this until yesterday. I thought the Trumps were just stupid and immoral, not this nefarious. Now I have a timeline that makes sense for collusion, many more loose threads that seem to support collusion, and the only defense given by those on the right is the word of the Trump campaign!

#11 Comment By Saul Goodman On July 12, 2017 @ 10:48 am

It’s been really fascinating to see the split at TAC between the regular writers, who more or less immediately recognized Trump for the walking timebomb with zero moral limits that he was, and the editors, who seem to have constructed a fantasy best-case scenario version of Trump’s presidency.

Why Merry, who otherwise appears to be a capable man of suitable intellect, would need this week’s revelation to finally understand that the mountain of undisclosed meetings, more-than-coincidences and post-Inaugural actions (Trump wanted to immediately rescind all the sanctions put in place in response to Russia’s election meddling) were indicative of some measure of wrongdoing is beyond me.

Anyone who has A.) done even a modicum of research into the Trump family’s background and B.) has ever followed a political investigation before knows that high level White House officials don’t all start lawyering up at the same time while repeatedly failing to disclose their contacts with the main target country of those investigations when there is nothing to hide.

This doesn’t mean that the Russia scandal is everything the Dems have made it out to be, but common sense dictates that this was never something that was even remotely outside the capability or ethical boundaries of someone like Trump and the people who surround him. That Merry seems surprised shows just how much a taste of power can corrupt your viewpoint.

#12 Comment By Fabian On July 12, 2017 @ 10:49 am

I agree with author that now Trump’s agenda is now in jeopardy. This story gave a lot of meat to the opposition. I’m afraid, The Don will have to cave in the swamp. And the “fake news” providers can now pretend that’s not so fake; one is enough.

#13 Comment By BobPM On July 12, 2017 @ 11:00 am

Lets at least put it out there: 52 USC 30121: (a) It shall be unlawful for (2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national. [Contribution in part (a)(1)(A) includes money or “other thing of value”].

Appears to be a straightforward violation. Lets also not beat around the bush, if Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort were all there, then it is likely Trump not only knew, he directed it. This seems rather apparent when you look at his roughly contemporaneous press conference announcing he would have new information on Clinton the following Monday.

#14 Comment By champ On July 12, 2017 @ 11:21 am

@mf
“your standard bearer a demonstrated public liar who used overt racism to appeal to the worst in that part of American public that might be inclined towards the worst when properly incited.”

Enlighten us all as to when Trump used “overt racism” to appleal to the worst part of the American public…

#15 Comment By james sullivan On July 12, 2017 @ 11:24 am

“New England and Maine”? Maine is part of New England!

#16 Comment By Wygrif On July 12, 2017 @ 11:27 am

Do you want to be a banana republic? Because tolerating Trump is how you get to be a banana republic.

#17 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 12, 2017 @ 11:48 am

(1) As TAC Editor Robert Merry points out, President Trump “campaigned on a pledge to improve relations with Russia.”

(2) “Then came the evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and the allegations of collusion, and Trump’s effort at improving relations was killed in the crib.”

(3) Nonetheless “after months of investigation…no serious evidence emerged of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

(4) President Trump “didn’t give up” on improving US-Russia relations and “at last week’s G-20 Summit in Hamburg, in a long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump sought to get beyond the matter of Russia’s U.S. political interference and take up other serious matters of mutual interest to the two countries, with a hope of easing tensions. It was an important development in a crucial area of U.S. foreign policy…”

(5) Yet with the so-called Donald Jr. affair “the president is back on the defensive, his back to the wall, with his opponents positioned to immobilize him on his Russian policy…”

(6) “In terms of Trump’s command of his policy toward Russia…the new [Donald Jr.] revelations will [once again] constrict his range of action irrespective of what may lie behind them.

(7) “The forces that have wanted to destroy the president, or at least destroy his ability to bring about a détente with Putin, are once again in the saddle.

(8) “One has to wonder at, perhaps even marvel at, the timing in all this.”

(9) Indeed, one does have to “marvel at the timing in all this.” The Republican and Democratic Party establishments, The Deep State, the defense contractors, and the mainstream media all seem bound and determined to block improved US relations with Russia.

(10) However, the bottom line remains the US national interest: Because better US relations with Russia are in the US national interest, it is in the US national interest that President Trump keep working to improve relations with Russia. So, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” Mr. President!

#18 Comment By polistra On July 12, 2017 @ 11:52 am

The stupidest part of all is that the Trump team didn’t understand their own advantage. You can’t beat the Clintons at the Clinton game. The Clintons own the stadium, the referees, the announcers and the ticket-takers. Everyone obeys the Clintons because everyone wants to continue living and breathing.

Trump had a whole new game. He was playing outside the neocon stadium with his appeal to Deplorables. A smarter man in that position (eg Buchanan or Santorum) would have known how to use the advantage, and wouldn’t waste effort trying to play the Mafia-owned game.

Trump didn’t. He thought he could play the enemy’s game. Beyond stupid.

#19 Comment By Just Dropping By On July 12, 2017 @ 12:09 pm

@ Donald (the one on the left): Right, that appears to be the most likely way this could lead to criminal charges. From what I’ve seen so far, the meeting itself may not have been illegal, but if Jr., Kushner, etc. omitted or lied about it during official background checks during the presidential transition, then they may be deemed to have committed crimes relating to providing knowingly incomplete/inaccurate responses. (I look forward to watching a bunch of people who insisted that Bill Clinton perjuring himself in a civil suit unrelated to performance of his duties as a president required impeachment now rationalizing why lying to the FBI and other law enforcement/intelligence services for the purpose of trying to obtain a security clearance that will grant access to classified material isn’t really a problem.)

#20 Comment By collin On July 12, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

This article makes some good points but this is assuming nothing else turns up. And we have to remember:

1) This is another example of the member of Trump administration back stabbing each other. (And money is on Kushner! This is becoming stupid Shakespeare!)
2) In reality I thought lawfareblog article on Matt Tait was actually far worse than Jr. stupid actions.
3) Mueller team has 13 prosecutors.
4) Michael Flynn is holed up with Mueller’s team.

So will nothing else come out on this? Probably not.

#21 Comment By libertarian jerry On July 12, 2017 @ 12:37 pm

What is amazing is the great lengths that the “real owners of America,”in the guise of “the Deep State,” will go to keep their power and position. This is the classic example of the empire striking back. The framing of Donald Trump’s son in a non crime with the aiding and abetting of corrupt politicians and a fake news Main Stream Media is a desperate tactic. Obviously the Deep State must be worried.

#22 Comment By Jay Louis On July 12, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

This story is not over yet. Crime / no crime this is all based on Jr’s story of what happened at the meeting which we have no idea yet what the truth of the matter really is. So far, speculation that nothing happened then or later is based on the word of a known serial liar. So calm down sit back and watch where it goes. It could be interesting or it could be a dead-end.

#23 Comment By Johann On July 12, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

Lets not forget that justice is supposed to be blind.

The Republican never-Trumpers paid a British ex-spy to dig up dirt on Trump. The British ex-spy paid Russian spies for the dirt resulting in the infamous “Russian dossier”. After Trump won the nomination, that dossier was handed over to the Democrats.

DNC reps met with Ukrainian government officials in the Ukrainian embassy coordinating Ukrainian government efforts to dig up dirt on Trump and Manafort. That operation was sanctioned by the DNC.

So, the neocon never-Trumpers and the DNC went way beyond a one-off meeting by Trump jr et al with foreign governments. Some may say its much less important because they did not win the election. But if those meetings were indeed a crime, then members of the DNC and Jeb campaigns should also be charged. No double standards allowed.

#24 Comment By bt On July 12, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

One thing you have to admit:

If the roles were reversed and it was Hillary the President, colluding with the Russians, she would already have been impeached.

And if the GOP had sat in those meetings with Obama before the election and learned that the intelligence services had evidence of Russian-Hillary collusion, it would have been leaked fully to every right-wing news source with a week, and investigations of Clinton would have immediately commenced, oh never mind that incredibly treasonous and disqualifying use of gmail, while sitting Republicans congresspersons on the sidelines would be demanding that Hillary be tried and executed for treason.

But because Democrats don’t really have the same instinct for street-fighting, here we are.

All the same, it’s better to let a guy like Trump fall of his own weight. That’s probably why the intelligence community has been sitting tight on the mountain of evidence that they have no doubt collected. These little things dribble out by design, like this e-mail literally days after Trump’s pathetic meeting with Putin.

And this has the side benefit of forcing people like Paul Ryan ruin themselves trying to work with and/or defend the indefensible.

#25 Comment By Anthony M On July 12, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

As a part of the left that rejected Clinton because she was dirty and antithetical to actual leftism, I don’t have any hard feelings about the election itself. Sometimes Trump doesn’t even seem that stupid since, you know, Bush happened.

But oh lordy, his kids are really, really stupid. One of them will probably get to be president one day though, at least as long as Republicans continue to equate wealth with “success” and “ability”. Better them than someone smart enough to accomplish something.

#26 Comment By Jim C. On July 12, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

“It’s possible, of course, that this unfortunate meeting actually was part of a much bigger conspiracy that, if disclosed in full, could engulf the administration in revelations of such magnitude as to bring down the president. It’s possible, but not likely.”

I literally eye roll when I think that people can still believe that it’s highly unlikely that further revelations are coming at this point.

Exactly how many top aides need to have been proven to have outright lied about meeting with Russians connected to the Kremlin, and how many times does the administration need to be caught in blatant untruths, before it becomes obvious that it’s WAY more obvious than not that a conspiracy happened?

Carter Page
Michael Flynn
Jared Kushner
Paul Manafort
Donald Trump Jr.
Jeff Sessions
Roger Stone
Felix Sater

It’s way harder to find a top Trump aide or adviser who DOESN’T have massive ties to or undisclosed meetings with Russia than does.

[2]

Essentially if you’re still giving Trump the benefit of the doubt at this point then you’re guilty of either massive stupidity, tremendous tribalism and partisanship, or wilfull ignorance and blindness.

#27 Comment By Steve On July 12, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

Hmmmm, President McKinley was assassinated by the typically unhappy lone gunman after winning the election. I always wondered which vested interest McKinley “ticked off” by winning. Perhaps now we know. Hell hath no fury like a spurned party boss.

Returning to the Democrats, do you suppose they simply want revenge for Hillary or would they actually think their chances in 2020 would be improved if their candidate ran against a President Pence rather than a President Trump?

For me, it won’t matter. I decided back in 2004 that I was done with voting for variations of evil. I’ll be turning in a blank ballot at every national election until the day I die.

#28 Comment By Steve pickard On July 12, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

It is illegal for a campaing to accept a thing of value from a foreign national or foreign goverment.Opposition reasearch is a thing of value. To organize a meeting with one or more indivduals to obtain such a thing of value is a criminal conspiracy. Instead of the reasearch substitute illegal drugs and one can then understand the criminal ramifications of this adventure by the Trump campain. Many people are in jail for participating in such drug meetings even if it was a pretext or the person could not produce the goods. The crime is in the criminal agreement and the overt act of attending the meeting for illegal purposes. A conspirarcy charge does not depend on the success of the criminal venture

#29 Comment By Jon S On July 12, 2017 @ 2:40 pm

I see Fox News is pushing a speculative “set-up” narrative. Which is curious, because it doesn’t matter. If it’s a sting, then he got caught. If it isn’t, then he got caught.

Imagine a John caught in a prostitution sting: “Just because I went back to her room and intended to have sex with her doesn’t mean I’m guilty.”

Yeah, the judge would love that defense.

#30 Comment By TZx4 On July 12, 2017 @ 3:19 pm

@workinclass….
Interesting that your last sentence is a threat. I for one would like to hear whatever specific ideas you might have.

#31 Comment By John On July 12, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

Most of the reporting on Trump Jr’s meeting is focused on its pre-text, namely getting dirt from a Russian national. And yet, the actual content of the meeting is still unknown.

The only account we’ve heard is Jr’s. Assume that Jr’s is correct in that no dirt on Hillary was provided. And nothing else noteworthy was discussed.

OK. But why would Natalia Veselnitskaya risk violating her visa terms to meet with the Trump campaign (set up by a Russian oligarch) to exchange zero meaningful information and waste everyone’s time, including her own? It’s possible but strains credulity. The meeting must have been more complex.

We know that this woman is a crusader for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. And we know that since adoption was discussed, the Magnitsky Act was also discussed. Specifically, she was likely asking for Trump to help repeal Magnitsky Act if he was elected.

Did she ask for anything else? Mention Preet Bharara, the guy who was prosecuting her client, Prevezon? And the reason for her being in town? The Kremlin and Russia mob certainly received the gift of his firing. It would be nice to know if Veselnitskaya made the request.

These are some of the questions that I’m sure Mueller’s team will be asking.

#32 Comment By Square Dealer On July 12, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

“You have already embraced as your standard bearer a demonstrated public liar who used overt racism to appeal to the worst in that part of American public that might be inclined towards the worst when properly incited. “

Can’t tell if this refers to Trump or Clinton.

“You are normalizing this for political gain as is the God forsaken party that you support. “

Still can’t tell.

“The same person that you support is normalizing South American level of graft and corruption in American politics, and you are supporting him as an alleged “Conservative”.”

… and the ambiguity persisted until the word “Conservative”.

You should consider the possibility that some of us voted for Trump not as a “standard bearer” but because he seemed to be the lesser of two evils. You should consider that possibility because that’s what actually happened. I know very, very few Trump “true believers”.

I myself voted for him intending to vote for any decent GOP primary challenger (or decent Democrat for that matter) in 2020. Indeed, I would have voted for Sanders in 2016.

#33 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On July 12, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

“Trump must thinking, ‘Wow, I’m glad nobody sent my kid a phony email password reset link.'”

That’s Ann Coulter on Twitter. That’s why we love her.

#34 Comment By Clifford Story On July 12, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

It was a bait-and-switch job: the lawyer wanted to talk about easing sanctions but to get Junior to the table she promised dirt on Clinton. She likely had no such information.

But the Trump campaign fell for the bait! They met with one whom they thought was a representative of a foreign government, looking for the fruits of illegal hacking. Whether that was legal or illegal, it was certainly dishonorable.

And the claim that Donnie Sr. knew nothing of what his son, son-in-law and campaign manager were up to is ludicrous. These revelations are a major blow to whatever reputation and character he has remaining.

#35 Comment By Major Rage On July 12, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

A lot of the commenters to this article have resorted to back-biting Trump, his family, and his associates – in many instances just to go on the record with ‘I told ya so!’

Lest we forget, Donald J. Trump was elected president NOT because he is a paragon of civic virtue – but, because the alternative was worse and Trump does have a record of getting things done. I view all of this election-related bunk as a distraction fomented by the libs to hamstring the Trump agenda. From what I see on this blog – ya’ll are all for it. Phooey!

#36 Comment By Whine Merchant On July 12, 2017 @ 8:21 pm

Amazing that no matter what the topic or thrust of the article, the “what about Hillary?”camp comes out swinging. I guess it’s the old “best defence in an offence” approach, along with throwing more dust into the air [such as ‘deep state’ conspiracies].

As POTUS has said, he won. So now we have to deal with him, not the vanquished opponent.
Paul Ryan is correct: this is business-as-usual in NYC real estate. It is not world-leader politics or diplomacy. Probably only the Kushners see that treating government as a family business is a path to disaster, but their instinct for the inside advantage and the big payday won’t allow them to adjust or advise in the direction that the WH needs to go –

Thank you –

#37 Comment By kevin lanaghan On July 12, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

Politics is an amoral business, maybe it always has been. The public, by and large, seemed convinced Trump was driven to succeed, and had the talent, and experience to succeed. His legacy, and reputation were of paramount importance. He was a hardball negotiator who’d reign in the democrats, and push through the conservative agenda. The means don’t matter, its the end goal which counts. This is why he was elected, what wasn’t anticipated was his fragile ego, petty nature and inability to adapt to a completely different environment with a different set of rules. A corrupt system will continue to function, as long as its not too corrupt, and as long as the boundaries, and rules of the system are known. Trump doesn’t get it, its not the same universe, and he can’t change the gravitational constant.

#38 Comment By Steve Gibson On July 12, 2017 @ 10:59 pm

The information in the Donald Jr e-mails also adds possibilities for Donald Sr to have obstructed justice by firing Comey that do not depend on proving criminal collusion. Kushner concealed this meeting and could be prosecuted for that. The Trump defense largely depended on there being no criminal acts means no obstruction. That layer of defense disappeared with this revelation. (Bravo to Rod Dreher for agreeing that this is important.)

#39 Comment By Robert Madera On July 12, 2017 @ 11:45 pm

As a native of New Jersey who has viewed Trump from not so afar for the whole of his life, and witnessed his Atlantic City depredations, it amazes me that this obvious grifter has somehow convinced a goodly portion of the populace that he is something other than the vain vandal that he is, plundering and looting at will. Lord help our Glorious Republic.

#40 Comment By connecticut farmer On July 13, 2017 @ 9:26 am

Contributor Pollstra may be on to something. Though not a Trump fan, I didn’t think he was stupid, and although it was the father but, rather, the son who made contact with this woman, it may has well have been Trump Sr. He is now in a real fix. Though no one, not even Trump, is as sleazy as Ma and Pa Clinton-after all, they have elevated the old the dictum “the end justifies the means” to a level of high art.

Though only time will tell, I can’t see Trump lasting beyond the 2018 mid-terms—if he even lasts that long.

#41 Comment By Susan On July 13, 2017 @ 11:39 am

I’m always amazed at the hypercritical attitude toward Trump (and Trump friends, Trump kids, whatever) combined with the let’s look the other way and pretend that it doesn’t exist attitude toward anybody who parrots leftist talking points. Google Hillary and uranium for example.

#42 Comment By John C On July 13, 2017 @ 11:42 am

But her emails!

#43 Comment By Frank Dubrovich On July 13, 2017 @ 9:02 pm

You Yanks crack me up.
You interfere in every body else’s election process but god help it if it occurs to you.
John Podesta gave substantial donations to the Australian Greens during and before our elections, while he was Hillary’s campaign manager but that’s okay because its not illegal in OZ yet. Morally however its a bit rich for Democrats to get on their high horse. Lay with dogs and you’ll pick up fleas.

#44 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 13, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

” The means don’t matter, its the end goal which counts. This is why he was elected, what wasn’t anticipated was his fragile ego, petty nature and inability to adapt to a completely different environment with a different set of rules. A corrupt system will continue to function, as long as its not too corrupt, and as long as the boundaries, and rules of the system are known. Trump doesn’t get it, its not the same universe, and he can’t change the gravitational constant.”

Uhhhhh, not by any means necessary. That is not an acceptable bargain in my view. I want some change as much and perhaps more than most. Integrity of the system as well as personal integrity matter in my view are indispensable. This idea of accepting a corrupt system because its hard no to be corrupt seems a corrosive standard.

And that standard is paramount for our leadership. I think the Pres should have divested himself to serve. I think that about every executive. Congress gets a salary, they should have no relations with any financiers or serve on the boards of the same, even own stock. That is how pristine we need a system.

We don’t need crucifixions for error. But we do need accountability. This business with Mr. Trump’s son is unseemly. And it should serve as a wake-up call.
As for adaptation, it’s only been seven months.
______________________

” . . . it amazes me that this obvious grifter has somehow convinced a goodly portion of the populace that he is something other than the vain vandal that he is, plundering and looting at will.”

You think he is a robber baron. Well, not that I agree, but when he starts robbing the treasury let me know.

I am amazed at how often the term “obvious” is applied to Mr Trump. And yet, the evidence is rarely present to support it.

#45 Comment By Elly On July 15, 2017 @ 11:56 am

At what cost are we willing to compromise? That seems to be Merry’s initial question.
At what cost do we agree to “improve” Russia/USA relations? Certainly not at the cost of giving them access to control USA elections.

Americans vote for the person they believe most capable of working for all Americans’ interests, a candidate capable of walking that razor thin line between making a fair deal (always a compromise) and selling out.
In the greed for power and money both the Trump family and the Clinton family have sold out America for their own gain.
McKinley may have had something of a moral compass. But the hubris of both these families is shocking.

Not a crime but a blunder?
Fair enough if you are gambling with your own business or your own life. When you represent all of America, it is not a simple blunder, it is most certainly a crime.