Trump Jr.’s Emails Explode in His Father’s Face – Chemi Shalev | Haaretz

Poetic Justice and Historic Irony as Trump Jr.’s Emails Explode in His Father’s Face

President Donald Trump

New revelations demolish White House denials of his campaign’s collusion with Russia and could ultimately destroy the Trump presidency

Chemi Shalev | Haaretz

The land mine that Donald Trump Jr. planted on Monday blew up in his father’s face on Tuesday. All the tricks and all the shticks, all the excuses and all the evasions that President Trump and his advisers have offered over the past year to deny the Russian conspiracy to influence the U.S.A. presidential elections – and their own willingness to be a part of it – went down the drain. Whether it’s because of a lack of intelligence, bad legal advice, his back to the wall or some Oedipal motivation that we are not privy to, Trump Jr. has pushed Trump Sr. to the edge of the abyss, and possibly beyond.     

In a show of poetic justice that only reality can produce, in sublime irony that only history will appreciate, the instrument of Trump’s latest defeat were emails. Not the Hillary Clinton emails that were hacked by the Russians, moved to Wikileaks and undoubtedly helped Trump get elected, but Trump Jr. emails that were leaked by someone to the New York Times before Trump’s son – in a questionable maneuver – published them himself.

The emails detail the contacts that preceded the June 9, 2016 meeting between Trump Jr., Trump adviser Paul Manafort, the president’s son-in-law and White House aide Jared Kushner, and Moscow lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which was called to convey a Russian offer to supply damaging material on Clinton.

The New York Times report and the emails that followed it created the battering ram that demolished the lines of defense that Trump’s advisers had built to protect him.

There are two remaining bunkers now, and they are not as sturdy as before. The first holds the assertion that the meeting with Veselnitskaya was a one-time event that was never followed up or repeated.

The second includes the increasingly tenuous claim that Trump’s father had no idea what his son or his top advisers were up to and that they did not tell him about the extraordinary offer of assistance from the Kremlin. Both defenses don’t seem to hold water. If and when they collapse, they could drown the entire Trump presidency as well.

The emails reveal, in black and white, the myriad falsehoods that Trump and his advisers have disseminated, almost with abandon. The emails and other recent revelations prove, at least ostensibly, that Trump Jr. was told specifically and unequivocally of the Russian government’s plan to intervene in the elections in Trump’s favour; that the conspiracy reached the highest levels of Russian bureaucracy in the Kremlin; that the intermediaries were Russian businessmen close to Putin who had struck up a friendship with Trump when he hosted the Miss Universe contest in Moscow in 2013; that Russia specifically offered to convey information on alleged links between Clinton and Russian elements that would hurt her campaign; that Trump Jr. was happy to collaborate with the scheme hatched by America’s foremost geostrategic rival and that he never thought of telling the authorities about the proposed plot against the United States of America.

The revelations undercut and possibly demolish Kushner’s position and credibility, after he failed to report either the meeting or its content when he filed for his top-secret security clearance. They sparked panic in the White House, which was quick to accuse Trump’s “idiot son” of tripping up his father, at the same time that Trump himself praised his son’s “transparency.” It’s true that most Republicans won’t desert Trump in the wake of the new reports, though his position among GOP lawmakers who were already expressing doubts will further erode. At the same time, however, the tightening noose around Trump’s neck will solidify support for him among his base constituents and will strengthen their belief that his liberal rivals are trying to get rid of him by illicit means. Polarization and mutual distrust, already at dangerous levels, are likely to grow even further.

Tuesday’s report in the New York Times also cast a dark retroactive light on Trump’s amicable weekend meeting in Hamburg with Vladimir Putin. It casts new doubt on their agreements and increases suspicions of their joint efforts to “put the Russia thing behind,” as Trump tweeted, perhaps naively, upon his return.

Trump’s tilt towards Russia and his overall foreign policy will now face even greater scrutiny in light of renewed concern that he actively colluded with a foreign power to subvert American democracy.

After it seemed that Trump’s credibility had hit the bottom of the barrel, especially in the international arena, it now seems the barrel itself is free-falling to new depths.

The most intriguing question, of course, is how Trump himself will react. If he was a run-of-the-mill president, Trump could still use the most recent crisis to reset his presidency, distance himself from his problematic relatives and advisers and ask America for another chance.

But with Trump being Trump, it’s more likely that sooner or later he will erupt with indignation, increase the venom of his poisonous attacks, accuse the whole world of working against him and drag America down with him. It could be riveting and even entertaining if it wasn’t so scary and dangerous.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/14/2017 at 11:44 am

    Be Careful What You Ask For …..

    You Might Get it …..

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 07/14/2017 at 1:25 pm

    The Donald cannot distance himself from his son and son-in-law. It would damage the Trump Brand. Bad for business.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/14/2017 at 7:45 pm

    Assume that Trump manages to avoid stumbling into a major war. (Should that assumption prove false, then all bets are off.)

    But if our current situation persists — lesser wars that drag on indefinitely — then the current obsession with Trumpian scandals, real or alleged, is likely to intensify

    Trump has shown himself to be astonishingly thin-skinned.

    HE WILL GROW WEARY OF BEING PURSUED. Before his enemies close in for the kill, he will leave the field. — Andrew J. Bacevich, historian, Boston University

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/15/2017 at 3:58 pm

    Opinions: An Administration Without A Conscience

    Michael Gerson | The Washington Post

    Given what we know about the collusion — and there is no other word for it — between then-candidate Donald Trump’s most senior advisers and what they thought was a Kremlin-tied lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the most shocking thing is that no one on the Trump side was shocked.

    The most offensive thing is that no one took offense. Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager treated the offer of aid by a hostile foreign power to tilt an election as just another day at the office. “I think many people would have held that meeting,” the president affirmed.

    It is the banality of this corruption that makes it so appalling. The president and his men are incapable of feeling shame about shameful things.

    Donald Jr. certainly doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. Instead of offering a hint of contrition, he offered a complaint that the proffered information was not particularly useful.

    “I applaud his transparency,” father said of his son. But disclosure is not really a virtue if you are admitting highly unethical actions without an apology. It is more like a public confession for serious wrongdoing, while attempting to normalize sliminess.

    The ultimate explanation for this toxic moral atmosphere is President Trump himself. He did not attend the meeting, but he is fully responsible for creating and marketing an ethos in which real men write their own rules and victory matters more than character.

    Trumpism is an easygoing belief system that indulges and excuses the stiffing of contractors, the conning of students, the bilking of investors, the exploitation of women and the practices of nepotism and self-dealing. A faith that makes losing a sin will make cheating a sacrament. In other words, Trumpism gives the concept of “GRIFTER” real meaning.

    Republicans have sometimes employed the excuse that members of the Trump team are new to politics — babes in the woods — who don’t yet understand all the ins and outs. Their innocence, the argument goes, is proved by their guilt.

    This might apply to minor infractions of campaign finance law. It does not cover egregious acts of wrongdoing. Putting a future president in the debt of a foreign power — and subject, presumably, to blackmail by that power — is the height of sleazy stupidity. It is not a mistake born of greenness; it is evidence of a vacuous conscience.

    The foundation for this approach to campaigning and governing is a belief that politics is an essentially dirty business.

    Trump seems honestly convinced that the system is “rigged” against him — to the point of defrauding him of millions of votes. If the system is truly manipulated by political enemies, then only suckers are bound by its norms and requirements.

    Those who denigrate our system of government are providing an excuse for gaming it. And that is precisely what Trump Jr. was doing — trying to game American democracy.

    Some believe that the political enterprise is noble but fallen. They have the goal of restoring something lost and loved. Others believe that politics is essentially low and grubby, and must be conducted by its own ruthless rules. This attitude makes it difficult, apparently, to distinguish between political hardball and subversion.

    During the Trump campaign and his young, paralyzed presidency, we have heard some conservatives argue, “We’re not electing a pastor in chief.” It has been particularly strange to hear religious conservatives claim that the character of leaders doesn’t count. But the character of a president leaves an imprint on everyone around him.

    A high ethical standard — think Gerald Ford or George H.W. Bush — creates a general expectation of probity.

    A low ethical standard — think Richard Nixon or Donald Trump — has a pervasive influence of its own, inevitably resulting in scandal.

    C.S. Lewis posited three elements that make up human beings. There is the intellect, residing in the head. There are the passions, residing in the stomach (and slightly lower). And then there are trained, habituated emotions — the “stable sentiments” of character — which Lewis associated with the chest.

    In the realm of political ethics, voters last year did not prioritize character in sufficient numbers, during the party primaries or the general election. Now we are seeing the result.

    “In a sort of ghastly simplicity,” Lewis said, “we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

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