Opinion: Donald Trump Jr.’s stunningly bad emails about Russia

Donald Trump Jr. campaigns for his father Gilbert, Ariz., November 2016. (AP file photo)

The President Trump/Russia story was suddenly revived in a big way the past few days via the reporting of the New York Times. But the biggest revelation in the story came today from Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

On his Twitter account, Trump Jr. released a copy of an email chain between him and an associate who was seeking to set up a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who purported to have “some official documents and information that could incriminate Hillary (Clinton) and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Here are the tweets and the attachments, preceded by a statement from Trump Jr.:

To clarify: the second tweet includes the earliest messages in the thread.

I am not sure how the Trump administration spins this.  The fact that the lawyer ultimately didn’t have the goods? That’s not much of a defense to the charge that Trump Jr. was willing to take a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who claimed to have damaging information about Clinton being passed along as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” If someone other than Trump Jr. had released the emails, one would have expected the Trump team’s defense to be that the emails were fabricated. They’re that bad.

The fact that opposition research is central to every campaign? Not terribly persuasive when we’re talking about the involvement of a foreign government. The fact that the information was said to be “incriminating” — presumably from a legal standpoint, given that it allegedly was coming from “the Crown prosecutor of Russia”? That would be an argument for turning the information over to the FBI, not pursuing it for political reasons. That the email is somehow “out of context”? Aside from not knowing just what context might make Trump Jr. look better here, we can’t overlook the fact that he released the emails himself; if there was some context that made it better, why didn’t he also release that? (As of 47 minutes after he sent the second tweet, he had not sent any others.)

This is by far the worst moment of the Trump presidency regarding the Russia investigation.

“But Hillary” doesn’t work, either. Speaking of her: Before anyone reflexively defends Trump, you should ask yourself how you would have reacted if similar emails had been found among the cache of Clinton emails either turned over to the FBI or released by Wikileaks … or if President Obama had sent something similar after his infamous hot-mic moment with Dmitri Medvedev promising “more flexibility” toward Russia after his election. I’ll hazard a guess you wouldn’t have been very understanding. Nor should you have been.

Reader Comments 0

543 comments
segower
segower

The Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya, was likely representing (as she has in the past) the interests of the billionaire oligarchs--including some Russian government officials--targeted by the 2012 Magnitsky Act. (Putin's response to the Magnitsky Act was to impose a ban on Americans' adoption of Russian babies, which is why that came up in the meeting.) What's unclear among other things is why Veselnitskaya would have shown up at a meeting with top Trump advisors to push for repeal of the Magnitsky Act if she had nothing to offer--that is, no dirt on Clinton. My guess is that we're going to get schooled on the Magnitsky Act in the days to come.

Travis Kapopolus
Travis Kapopolus

Some of the comments on this thread are mind-boggling and hilarious, but not at all surprising. The same people who effectively hijacked the word "patriot" over the past decade, are now apologists, defenders, and deniers for nearly anything to do with Russian interference. Samuel Johnson nailed it.

someonesdad
someonesdad

It DID NOT involved a foreign government.  Why do people keep saying that?  She was a russian lawyer, and she said she had no connection with the government.  Why is everyone lying about this?  He did nothing wrong.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

I want to see Sessions off the side line investigating Hillary, the DNC and Podesta.

And Sessions needs to replace his number one guy who is a Liberal with political ties to Dims and the Clintons via his wife who was a Dim candidate.

I'm really sick and tired of McConnell and his regular order, and with Repubs and Trump in general for not taking the gloves off.

It's one thing to have issues within your own party passing health care reform, tax cuts, and defending the president from bogus charges but quite another to let the Dims run all over you at the same time. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The plot thickens. We're learning that Loretta Lynch, approved a visa for Natalia the Russian attorney for one week. She overstayed her visa by six months and nothing was done to send her back to Russia. During that time she was observed schmoozing with members of congress and behaving as a foreign government representative which she did not register as such. Senator Grassley is investigating. Something ain't right.

bu22
bu22

@SGTGrit Obama administration ignoring border security and illegal aliens.  Just par for the course.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Bookman is over there crying and heartbroken that there isn't any legal basis for a collusion charge. He even goes back in history to blame the confederacy for seeking help from Great Briton during the civil war. He criticizes conservatives for continuing to support Trump, while the Democrats accuse him of collusion, high treason and anything else they can accuse him of doing. He says that while he can't be certain he's sure that Democrats would never defend their own party member for what Trump's doing colluding with a foreign government. Of course he's omitting the Obama teams collusion with the Russians by ostensibly punishing them with sanctions that have had zero effect and thereby rewarding Putin for his aggression. And rewarding Putin by laying off Assad after his chemical weapons attack on his own people. And rewarding Putin by capitulating to Iran and allowing them to freely pursue their goal of becoming a nuclear power. Blatant hypocrisy.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

Bookman is a fool of the highest order.

His party and his candidate are obvious crooks whose guilt makes the Trumps look like a Sunday School class.

bu22
bu22

@SGTGrit Missing Ted Kennedy's deal with the Russians in 1984, Hillary and the DNC working with the Ukrainians and the environmentalists and Podesta working with the Russians in 2016.  You wonder how much is talking points and how much they are truly blind to their own hypocrisy.  I'm afraid a lot is the latter, which is kind of scary how many people are so delusional.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

Of course he's omitting the Obama teams collusion with the Russians by ostensibly punishing them with sanctions that have had zero effect and thereby rewarding Putin for his aggression

You defining collusion with another country by someone attemping to punish that country..Most people would disagree with that assumption

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@BuckeyeGa 

If the punishment wasn't intended to stop Russian aggression then it's only encouraging more of it which it did. I would call that a form of collusion by enabling a foreign government to commit more aggression. 


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

What is it with the media's need to headline an article with a false narrative?

From the LATimes:

Trump arrives in Paris, seeking respite from trouble at home 

Noooooo...he arrives in Paris because Macron invited him.

JK1951
JK1951

I don't see where Trump's son did anything wrong or illegal...other than lie about having a meeting. He should have told the truth. I'd fire him for lying even if he was my son. I still like Trump and his son both but the boy needs to be made to accept responsibility for his actions.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JK1951 

Hopefully, he learned a lesson albeit the hard way. I think he foolishly jumped on an opportunity he

 believed could help his father. Even if he was duped and there is possible evidence emerging he may have been, it's no excuse.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit @JK1951

The Trump's are wheeler-dealers on the International stage which in itself does not give Jr a pass but certainly figures into his misstep as meeting with foreigners is common for them.

Roll that into being a political novice, the setup by someone he knows, and the apparent incompetence of Manafort and the rest is history.

bu22
bu22

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit @JK1951 Think how rare it is for posters on the left to ever admit someone on their side did anything at all wrong or stupid.

segower
segower

@JK1951 I can't remember who said it, but it's not the crime but the cover-up that gets you in trouble. Nixon was almost impeached not for ordering the Watergate break-in, but for trying to cover it up.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

When will "journalists" start reporting illegal government leaks to the FBI?

pamigopu
pamigopu

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pamigopu
pamigopu

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AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Nobody on our side wants to talk policy anymore, they just want to roll with the immature democrat party fiction of the day. It leads one to believe that maybe they weren't exactly sincere with their prior talk of repeal and lower taxes, et al.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I must say that I understand Andy's frustration. Kyle was a never Trumper and that's okay because I'll accept that he searched his conscience and made a principled decision. However, Trump won and with his win and to his credit he's trying to make good on the conservative promises he made to his base voters. Kyle is either on board with Trump's agenda or he isn't. If the latter is true or if he feels that he must save face by belittling Trump, which is rejecting his conservative agenda then he should resign. He should resign his position with the AJC as its conservative voice. Trump will be president for over the next three years at least as the republican conservative chief executive voice and Kyle, won't be able to support him. Kyle, is a nice intelligent guy but he's no Jim Wooten.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Everyone should be able to realize that this is the best chance we've ever had to advance the agenda we all supposedly support. Sure, it may not be as graceful as we'd like but so what?

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @AndyManUSA#45 Trump's health care plan is to reduce health care for poor and middle class people while cutting taxes for the rich. Was that part of his agenda? He said he would rebuild infrastructure and the military...where will the money come if we reduce taxes? Will a wall stop illegal immigration? Are we really going to deport all those hard working people? Is that good for the country? Drain the swamp? What about a Wall Street based cabinet?

bu22
bu22

@Starik @SGTGrit @AndyManUSA#45 Trump is trying to make health care affordable for middle class people.  Obamacare is getting massive price increases, in the places where it still exists.  In many places there are no providers willing to sell insurance.  Trump has already drastically decreased illegal immigration by merely stating he will enforce the law.  An appropriate wall will reduce it further.  They have been deporting the criminals as should have been happening all along.  He has implied that he is not trying to deport everyone.  He has been draining the swamp.  Lots of excess people in state and people guilty of misconduct (about 500) in the VA system have been let go. 

Starik
Starik

@bu22 @Starik @SGTGrit @AndyManUSA#45 The only fix for the healthcare system is single payer. We need immigrants to do the hard physical work and a lot of technical jobs. Good people are being deported for minor offenses like driving without a license - because some states won't let them get one. The cabinet is full of Wall St. executives and people from big business. Trump is no conservative.

Starik
Starik

@bu22 @SGTGrit @AndyManUSA#45 By the way, the change to VA employment practices is a good one. The Gorsuch appointment gives an expected replacement for Scalia; nothing revolutionary yet. Cooperating with the Russians on terrorism would be a good thing. Trump promises a lot but can't deliver; he never meant to.

bu22
bu22

@Starik @bu22 @SGTGrit @AndyManUSA#45 Single payer is the 2nd worst outcome after single employer.  The VA for all health care is the worst outcome and Medicare for all is the 2nd worst.   But that is a debate for another column. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

When you hold your own political party to the highest standards but allow the opposition to get away with murder, that is cowardice.

(Feel free to delete this one too.)

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Trump colluding with the Russians, Clinton colluding with the Ukrainians. Geez people this is America lets get our heads on straight and focus our priorities.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Has Eugene McCarthy been vindicated or what? 😂

Starik
Starik

@AndyManUSA#45 The peacenik Congressman from Minnesota who ran against LBJ? Again, I agree with you. He was right all along.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

“Hen-ce, lega-lly, Donald Trump Jr. taking a mee-ting at the request of a family friend, to hear someone wanting to volun-teer informa-tion about your Dad’s adve-rsary, can leg-ally be no crime. He did what a loyal son, honorable friend, and smart adv-ocate would do — hear them out. Anyone who thinks that’s a crime is the one who needs to have their values checked."

Actually, they need to have their diapers checked.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Meanwhile a small group of US Senators from both sides of the aisle have huddled and have started discussing how to fix Obamacare.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Cowards like kyle wingfield are the reason that democrats define right and wrong, instead of our Constitution. That he supposedly respects.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

Oh so now it's Kyle's fault.

You can blame whomever you want but that does not change the fact that Robert Mueller is investigating the Trump administration. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

It's not all his fault, clepto, there are more like him.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

Kyle did not appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into possible connections between those in the Trump administration and a hostile foreign nation, in regard to the 2016 election.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

I know that, sociopath, I also know that he affirmed it instead of calling it out as a sham. Maybe kyle likes the deep state, who knows.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @AndyManUSA#45 

Well now breckenridge how can you really be certain that Mueller is only investigating the Trump, administration? You won't answer, so I'll answer for you....You don't know. Carry on.

someonesdad
someonesdad

@breckenridge @AndyManUSA#45 An "investigation" has nothing to do with guilt.  The entire Trump admin will be exonerated.  Crying Dems wasting more time because  they don't like losing.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Andy if you scroll up a bit you will see this from Kyle:


“But Hillary” doesn’t work, either.


That was a good call right there.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Yes, what Donald Jr did was wrong and stupid. Same as when barak obama did it, accept obama was nefarious, not stupid.

When will the democrats grow up?

breckenridge
breckenridge

Gwinnett County, GA July 11 -- An attorney has been appointed to represent the mother accused of stabbing her husband and four kids to death - despite her insistence that she didn't need one.

Attorney Robert Greenwald has been appointed to represent Isabel Cartuno Martinez, 33, according to court records.

"The court appointed me out of an abundance of caution," Greenwald said. "Obviously, the charges are quite serious, so it's not in her best interest to represent herself."

 

Martinez was arrested and charged with the stabbings. In a bizarre first appearance on July 7, she continuously refused a court-appointed attorney, even though she qualified for one. She said she wanted to represent herself.

"My attorney is the people that we're fighting for," Martinez said. "That's the hope. It's always the hope, because that's the last thing that dies. You are the hope of the world, each one of you."

Her attorney is the people we're fighting for...uh....yeah. I think something got lost in the translation, she was speaking through an interpreter.