It’s not simply the incredulity that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin on the promise that he would gain some dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Even without going further…this smells. You see, a 12-year-old American knows that when a Russian official offers information…you pick up a phone and call the F.B.I.
But, if you’re from a family that rarely plays by the rules…not so much. When winning is everything…cheating is, well, just another strategy.
But knowing what we know about President Trump and his Administration…that they sprout lies like weeds after a Spring rain…everyone with even a double-digit IQ should be raising a collective eyebrow by now.
I say that because - and there’s no kind way to put this - you have to be incomprehensibly stupid to believe that Donald the Junior asked then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, as well as Trump son-in-law and most-trusted-adviser Jared Kushner, to join him in a dubious sit-down with the enemy without telling either of them what it was about.
I don’t know about you, but during my entire career I was always - you know, too busy - to take meetings without knowing some details like what, why and who…at the very least.
Never mind, too, that Donald the Junior swears he didn’t know the person he and his fellow - for the sake of a convenient collective noun, let’s call them colluders - would meet was a Russian lawyer. He didn’t even know her name, which seems an unnecessary hurdle for someone you’re meeting.
Are we to believe security at Trump Tower is so lax? Who knew you could just show up and say something like “I’m here to see Moose and Squirrel,” in a thick Russian accent and get in?
The Russian lawyer’s name is Natalia Veselnitskaya. Donald the Junior said he met with her at the request of acquaintance Rob Goldstone…a British publicist he met at the 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow, and who by all accounts looks like an escaped circus clown. It matters less who requested the meeting…the Trumps wanted dirt…apparently at any cost.
But a few days after Donald the Junior first two lies about the meeting, Veselnitskaya countered, saying she didn’t ask for the meeting…Donald the Junior did. While it’s usually easy to find the liar in a Trump story…this one strains credibility on both sides.
Of course, Donald the Junior also claimed Donald the Senior didn’t know anything about the meeting. Hmmmm.
Let’s consider the context. Exactly two weeks after clinching the Republican nomination, Trump’s son, along with his number one adviser/son-in-law and his campaign manager all meet a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin about dirt on Hillary in Trump Tower. This is the same father and son - who by their own admissions - talked in person or by phone on average five times a day their entire adult lives.
Of course, Donald the Senior is only a floor away in the same building as the meeting…but he doesn’t know anything? The Micro-Manager-in-Chief? Are we to believe none of the three - all ambitious men used to currying favour with “dad” or the boss - pass on the chance to please Donald the Senior? How odd.
Donald the Junior not only shares DNA with his dad…he also inherited his father’s propensity to lie. We know this because his two statements within 24 hours of The New York Times breaking the story about the meeting were completely contradictory. A third statement came from Donald the Junior’s attorney - oh, yes, he lawyered up the very next day - and his lawyer’s statement was a pathetic defence…a “trust me, my client did nothing wrong.”
Last Tuesday, Donald the Junior released his chain of emails about the meeting because The New York Times was about to print them. What choices did he have…look guilty or look stupid? He managed both. Once again, Donald the Junior looks like the sleazy liar he is…certainly not transparent. Like father…like son.
Want further proof of Donald the Junior’s willingness to play fast and loose with the truth? Consider that he swore neither Kushner nor Manafort had any details before the June 9 meeting with the Russian. And yet, in the chain of emails he hurriedly released, you can clearly see both Kushner and Manafort were copied on all of the emails on June 8…a day before the meeting. Is that the smell of Donald the Junior’s pants on fire?
No doubt the facts - the stock and trade of The New York Times and other reputable news media - will eventually prove that Donald the Junior is a serial liar…a regular chip off the old block…and more.
Oh, an additional “never mind” fact. Remember, everyone in the entire Trump campaign and later the Administration…including Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Carter Page, Donald the Junior and Donald the Senior, himself…swore on numerous occasions that there was never a meeting with a Russian in 2016. Period.
All could have faulty memories or amnesia, I guess, or they could be simply lying because they know they had meetings, emails and conversations about how to undermine America’s presidential election, its Constitution and its democracy. What Donald the Junior and his comrades did, by the way, is the textbook definition of collusion.
Trump surrogates, White House minions and virtually every congressman with a (R) behind his or her name joined the ongoing circus of defenders on cable news shows. But if your best defence is a laughable lie…you’re in deep weeds.
They lie…because that’s what their boss does. Kellyanne Conway, Jeffrey Lord, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Jason Miller, Sebastian Gorka and Jack Kingston - among others - said and continue to say ridiculous things that anyone with a conscience would regret. But, I guess it’s easier to lie when you have no conscience.
They all slammed the news media, Hillary, Democrats, Liberals…everyone they could think of except the people who had something to hide…people named Trump. During every interview, each surrogate was more defensive than a cheating spouse pulling up his or her pants as the other spouse unexpectedly entered the room.
Try as they might, charges of “witch hunt” and “fake news” won’t really work any more. Remember, Donald the Junior Tweeted the emails. So, the best they could come up with is “Every campaign conducts opposition research.” True…but not with a sworn enemy of the United States.
You see, more than 60 percent of the American public disapprove of President Trump and believe his Administration colluded with the enemy. Who was involved? Personally, I believe everyone…including Donald the Senior. Investigations will bear this out, I predict.
If you were casting a movie about how Trump ran his campaign and Administration…there aren’t enough slapstick comedians still alive. Don Knotts (Barney Fife), the Keystone Kops, the Three Stooges…perfect casting…but sadly, they’re all gone.
Sadly, too, unlike iconic comedic characters…none of the White House characters are truly funny or innocent.
It’s time for the final “never mind” of this column. If you break into someone’s house to steal jewellery, but find crappy stuff and leave, have you committed a crime? Trumpsters say “No!” Lawyers…the kind who will likely prosecute some or many in the Trump White House and campaign…will say, “Yes!”
Just to be clear…collusion in and of itself…is not necessarily illegal. It is unethical. More shoes will drop during the House, Senate and FBI investigations and news media accounts, and we will learn to what extent members of the Trump Campaign and Administration coordinated or colluded with Russia. I believe the investigations will show clearly that several high-level Trump advisers colluded with the Russians…and Donald the Senior knew.
Collusion is an impeachable offence…even if it is not a felony crime. Eventually, the three investigations will drive the decision to impeach. Republicans in the House will not so much gain a collective conscience as they will finally feel too much heat…and they’ll turn faster than sunbathers at the beach in August. Impeachment is, I predict, increasingly likely because the most recent revelations are only small bombs…the nuclear bombshells are yet to come.
If you meet with a Russian with the intent to gain dirt on your dad’s opponent…you’re already well down the path of collusion. It’s about your intentions. And Donald the Junior clearly stated that’s what his Three Stooges meeting was all about.
Before you even think about defending collusion with the enemy - especially a proven adversary like Russia - you really need to take a long look at the American flag and remember all those who died to keep America free. Maybe read the Constitution for the first time since Middle School.
Don’t even try to make this a Right versus Left, Republican versus Democrat battle. It’s not. It’s America versus an enemy that would like America not to exist…and by any means necessary.
It doesn’t matter one iota that these known liars all said nothing came of the meeting…that the Russian lawyer offered no useful information. You see, liars would likely lie about such things.
Oh, and that drip, drip, drip of lies and then lies to cover up lies...not even the best plumber can help the Trumps stop the truth from leaking out. Example? Another drip last Friday - after this column was largely written - was the discovery by NBC News that the Three Stooges meeting apparently was more the "Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight" meeting. Seems eight people attended the meeting - including Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Russian military and counter-intelligence official and now Russian-American lobbyist - and an unknown translator accompanied Russian lawyer Vesilnitskaya to the meeting. Drip, drip, drip...
– Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.
— Ed. Note: This column was corrected at 4:19 p.m. July 18.
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