This seems pretty damning to me. It’s a transcript of part of the e-mail conversation Donald Trump Jr. had with his British fixer friend regarding the proposed meeting with the Russian woman. The source of this document is a tweet by … Donald Trump Jr., who is being mocked as the hapless Fredo Corleone of the Trump family.
This is proof that Don Jr. (and no doubt Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, who went to the same meeting) had reason to believe that the Russian state wanted to feed the Trump campaign information to compromise Hillary Clinton.
Understand what this means: this proves that the highest level of the Trump campaign — including two members of the Trump family and the campaign’s manager — went into a meeting with a Russian lawyer expecting to be offered information from the Russian government damaging to Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. was enthusiastic about it! And he said so in an e-mail, of all the idiotic things to do.
This is not proof that they received such information, of course. But it shows that they’ve been lying all along about collusion with the Russians. Trump Jr.’s email — which he released himself on Twitter — shows that he eagerly embraced the opportunity to collude with the Russians. And so did Kushner and Manafort, unless you are cloddishly prepared to believe that Trump Jr. did not tell them about this.
I’m not surprised by this, and not surprised that Team Trump lied about it repeatedly. This is pretty cringe-inducing:
Flashback: Watch Manafort, Don Jr., Conway, Pres. Trump, Priebus, and Lewandowski all denying Trump campaign contact with Russia. pic.twitter.com/Aqf5eHbbJE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 11, 2017
The big question now is — here we go again — What did the president know and when did he know it?
This has everything to do with his firing of Jim Comey to try to shut down the Russia investigation. If the president knew that he had something to hide regarding Russia, then it seems to me that firing Comey (after Comey refused Trump’s request to call off investigators) could be construed by a prosecutor as obstruction of justice.
Meeting with a representative of a hostile foreign government with the expectation that you’ll get dirt on your political opponent in the presidential campaign is sleazy, disgusting, unpatriotic, and about 15 other pejorative adjectives — but not, as far as I know, against the law. (I could be wrong!) If Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort did not actually collude with the Russians, then they went to that meeting prepared to do so. Anybody want to take any bets on whether or not this was the last communication between the Russians and the Trump campaign?
But firing the FBI director at least in part to prevent him from uncovering damaging information about the Russia contacts is something else entirely. Trump, remember, told Lester Holt that he had “this Russia thing” in mind when he fired Comey, and Trump later told the Russian ambassador that firing Comey relieved “great pressure” on him, because of Russia .
You’d have to be a fool not to wonder what Trump knew, given that we now have proof that his three senior campaign aides (including his son and son-in-law) met with someone they believed was a representative of the Russian government, with the expectation of receiving damaging intelligence on Hillary Clinton. Robert Mueller is no fool.
And at a minimum, the information in the emails demolish the president’s claim, made as recently as last week, that “nobody really knows” whether the Russians meddled in the U.S. election and if they did whether they did so with the intent of helping him and hurting Clinton.
Trump’s son said Tuesday he was releasing the emails in the interest of transparency, but that decision came after the New York Times informed him that their reporters had the contents and were preparing to publish. Day by day, thanks to the Times’s reporting, Donald Trump Jr. has been dissembling about how and why a meeting with a Russian lawyer came about.
When reporters from the Times first approached him about the meeting, he said it was primarily about adoption, then later conceded that he had been told the purpose was to present damaging information about Clinton. Now it turns out there was an explicit connection to the Russian government. His rapidly changing explanations left White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus hung out to dry with his comment on Sunday that it was a meeting about adoption.
Look, they all lie. Why is there any reason to believe anything the Trumps and the Trump White House says about anything? Nobody who works in the White House will get out of it with their reputation intact. How can anybody believe a thing this White House says about anything? How can any sensible Republican member of Congress stake his reputation on standing by this White House?
We are only six months into this administration.
As I said earlier today, I’m so cynical about American politics now that I am not surprised by the Trump people meeting with the Russians. I am not even surprised by the chronic lying. This is what I expect from Trump, a man of no character. Yet potential obstruction of justice is something else. It’s not about ethics or morals, but the rule of law. If Mueller can find anything to back up that kind of charge, Trump will have to be impeached. A Republican Party in charge of Congress that cannot muster the votes to impeach a Republican president under those conditions is rotten to the core.
I won’t be surprised if that happens, though. We are a long way from that … but the distance got a lot smaller today, thanks to Don Jr.
Interesting to think about who in the White House is the source of all the leaks to The New York Times. Back in March I was told by a conservative source in a position to know that the White House was a war zone, with everybody having knives out for everybody else. This was two months into the Trump presidency. And now look.
UPDATE: I retract “they all lie”. I don’t think everybody who speaks for the president and his family lies. I think that they say what they are told to say. If it turns out not to be true, that may not be their fault. But one does wonder at what point they decide holding on to their White House job is not worth destroying their name and reputation is not worth it?
UPDATE.2: This wins the Internet:
Everyone in Trump's orbit is like a husband on Dateline who googled "undetectable poisons + wife" then bought a shovel with a credit card
— Peter Schultz (@pete_schultz) July 12, 2017