‘The Question At This Point’ Is Who’s Going To Jail


Via Eugene Robinson for WaPo

From now on, ignore the conventional wisdom about how the Russia scandal is not “resonating” with President Trump’s still-loyal base. The question at this point is what strikes a chord with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and what kind of legal jeopardy Trump’s closest associates, including his eldest son and son-in-law, might eventually face.

Trump spent Monday morning live-tweeting fawning segments from his favorite cable news show, “Fox & Friends.” Within the cozy confines of that alternate universe, the story “everyone is still talking about” was said to be video of the president, before boarding his helicopter at Andrews Air Force Base, retrieving a Marine’s wind-blown hat.

In Mueller’s office suite, though, I’m confident there was much more talk about Donald Trump Jr.’s stunning admission over the weekend: In June of last year, he summoned Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer — described as having close connections with the Kremlin — in hopes of receiving derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.

The meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya was first reported Saturday by the New York Times. Initially, Trump Jr. told the newspaper that the “short” meeting was to discuss “a program about the adoption of Russian children.” On Sunday, however, he acknowledged that he had agreed to the meeting because he had been told that Veselnitskaya “might have information helpful to the campaign.” The lawyer’s dirt about Clinton was “vague, ambiguous and made no sense,” however, and Trump Jr. ended the meeting after “20 to 30 minutes.”

The meeting came amid what U.S. officials describe as a Russian campaign of hacks, leaks and disinformation designed to help Trump win the election. After months of categorical denials, we now have an admission of attempted collusion, at least, involving three top-ranking figures in the Trump campaign.

Despite what Trump apologists may say, it is not normal practice for a campaign to welcome information undermining an opponent, regardless of the source. In 2000, the Al Gore campaign was anonymously sent briefing books and a video that George W. Bush had used to prepare for an upcoming debate. Gore campaign officials immediately turned the material over to the FBI — which opened a criminal investigation.

Veselnitskaya is best known as a tireless crusader for repeal of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law blacklisting Russian officials believed responsible for the death of a well-known human rights activist. When President Barack Obama signed the law, Russian President Vladimir Putin was so vexed that he halted U.S. adoptions of Russian children in retaliation. It is safe to assume that if Veselnitskaya raised the subject of adoptions, as Trump Jr. says, it was part of an argument against the Magnitsky law.

Is this all too complicated for voters to follow? Would Americans beyond the Beltway rather hear about jobs or health care? Perhaps so. But the questions that should be concentrating the minds of the president’s inner circle are legal, not political — and Mueller’s high-powered team of lawyers is experienced at connecting dots.

The Veselnitskaya meeting is just one of several encounters with Russians that apparently slipped Kushner’s mind when he filled out disclosure forms required for his White House post. It came to light only after he amended those forms — and someone familiar with their contents dropped a dime to the Times. Trump Jr.said in March that he had had no meetings with Russians “that were set up . . . and certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.” Do you find it remotely believable that he somehow forgot a meeting that he set up, between a party-line Russian lawyer and the campaign? Neither do I.

Trump Jr. said in a statement Sunday that he had been asked by an acquaintance to arrange the meeting; he claimed not even to have known Veselnitskaya’s name beforehand, let alone anything about her. He said that he did not tell Manafort or Kushner of the meeting’s purpose in advance, and that his father had no idea the meeting was taking place.

At the time, Manafort was running a presidential campaign — roughly like being at the vortex of a tornado — and Kushner was one of the campaign’s chief advisers. The idea that they could spare even five minutes to meet an unknown person about an unknown subject is absurd. But that’s Trump Jr.’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

Manafort and Kushner had already retained high-powered lawyers. It’s no surprise that on Monday, Trump Jr. did the same.


9 thoughts on “‘The Question At This Point’ Is Who’s Going To Jail

  1. What’s astonishing about this is that we have heard not one tweet from DJT in support of his son…when anyone has even whispered anything malign about anyone else in his family (Ivanka and Nordstrom, Melania and prostitution, Barron and autism…) he has tweeted his support immediately…my guess is that DJT Jr. has been set up as the Patsy to take the fall for DJT Sr. and get Mueller and everyone else off his case…how convenient…

  2. Unfortunately, most humans are saddled with the disability of, “What you see is all there is,” (coined by Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D.) or “What you know or hear is all there is.” These conditions hamper the investigative mind/the curious mind, from examining information beyond that which is served up on a silver platter. These conditions ordinarily stifle one from developing disciplined thinking and exercising the mind so as to learn how to analyze a given set of facts, read between the lines, determine the meaning of what’s present beyond that what which is expressly stated by using inference and deductive reasoning, by observing what is omitted, and by recognizing the incredulous and what rings true. However, the presence of the disability would in no way deprive a seven year old from concluding that Trump, Jr., Kushner, Manafort and the Trump campaign and ultimately Mr. Destructo, were colluding (to use Fox’s insurmountable red herring standard) with the Russians in seeking to defeat Clinton.

  3. Jr. is such a smug little prick – didn’t like him before he was the son of the president – didn’t like him killing elephants in Africa and cutting off their tails and proudly holding it up as a trophy – didn’t like him sitting on a stump and pretending to be cute – didn’t like him with PePe The Frog – didn’t like him when he did the phony marriage proposal for a jewelry store ad in exchange for a free 100k ring – didn’t like his stupid analogy of the Syrian refugees and his bowl of Skittles – didn’t like him when he criticized the Mayor of London – didn’t like his July 4, 2017 tweet ….BUT I loved the response from America! And you MUST WATCH THE VIDEO!

    – Murphy

  4. “it is not normal practice for a campaign to welcome information undermining an opponent”

    Well I just must be Barney of Mayberry then.

      • I had to look it up! half-human, half-lizard creatures hahaha! loved it!

        The Sleestak are a reptilian bipedal humanoid species. They have a thin but wide-set mouths and large, round black eyes that are averse to light. Covered mostly in green scales, their bellies are yellow. Sleestak also have claws on their feet and on their hands, with a horn protruding from the top of their heads. There are some terrific images of Sleestak at Google!

        – Murphy

        • I guess I’m pretty old…from the original “Land of the Lost” series…Monsters from the Black Lagoon…BTW–that video you posted was ace! Totally priceless…

  5. Geo – I have never even seen Land of the Lost 1974-77 TV series per Google. I bet I am older than you are!! 🙂

    – Murphy

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