Tuesday, July 11, 2017

There's yer smoking gun

I predicted the existence of a Russia-gate smoking gun back in March, but I didn't expect it to actually turn up so soon.  And I certainly didn't expect it to turn up by having Donald Trump Jr. whip it out, shoot himself in the foot with it (twice!), and then loudly shout, "I told you there's nothing to see here, move along!"

Here is the most damning part of the email chain released by Trump Jr.  It's from Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting between Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who offered to provide the Trump campaign with damaging information on Hillary Clinton:
“Emin [Agalarov, one of Goldstone's clients] just called and asked me to contact you [Donald Trump Jr.] with something very interesting.  The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary ... and be very useful to your father.  This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump."  [Emphasis added.]
I can't imagine how it could get much smokier than that.  This is a direct communication with Donald Trump Jr., (I'm going to start calling him DTJ to distinguish him from Trump père) released by DTJ himself.  This is not a leak from an anonymous source.  There is no question regarding its authenticity.  And yet, if you were going to invent an email to try to frame DTJ for collusion, you couldn't do much better than this.  There it is, literally in black and white: "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary ... part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."  And he took the meeting.  Eagerly.

And yet, the Trump camp continues to insist that no "collusion" occurred, presumably because the proffered documents never materialized.  I really have to wonder at this point, what do they think the word "collusion" means?  It's like saying that, yes, you did indeed try to rob the bank but it's OK because the vault turned out to be empty.

I also wonder how much worse this has to get before Republican senators and congresscritters start to head for the exits.


Don Geddis said...

My favorite part is Colbert's take on DTJ's Russia email. Specifically, the 30 seconds where he reports on the poor journalist who had been working on the story.

As for the "smoking gun", I don't especially disagree, and yet ... what would you honestly bet is the likely outcome here? That DTJ is prosecuted (for what, exactly?) and goes to jail? That Trump (Sr) is impeached? (And convicted?)

The GOP controls both houses. (And, more and more, SCOTUS.) The main remedy for a President you don't like, is to vote him out of office at the next election. Short of that, and short of an opposition party with power, there isn't much that can really happen, in a practical sense.

I think it's your final sentence that is the most meaningful. And the answer is unlikely to be one of statesmanship, of putting country above party. Instead, Congress will take action, only once the electorate becomes sufficiently incensed that they will punish the individual Congress(critters?) in local elections. But with all the safe districts, we're a long, long way from that level of voter anger.

Ron said...

> what would you honestly bet is the likely outcome here?

I *hope* that the we will eventually see a have-you-at-long-last-no-sense-of-decency moment, and the whole Trump clan will be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail while the Republicans hang their heads in shame. I think it could happen. The Republicans are running out of places to hide. For eight years their stock-in-trade has been to blame everything on Obama and the Clintons, but that doesn't work so well when you control all three branches of government.

I think it's also possible that one of the many other scandals swirling around Trump could bring him down. It seems pretty likely that there is something nefarious hiding in Trump's tax returns (most likely being deep in hoc to the Russians), and I think Robert Mueller could unearth it. Maybe people will start to pay attention to how Trump very nearly torpedoed our strategic alliance with Qatar to punish them for not loaning his son-in-law $500M. Maybe one of the emoluments lawsuits will get traction. Who knows? One of the shocking things about this situation is just how *many* different scandals there are, any one of which would be enough to bring down a president in a sane world.

But I am, of course, mindful of the overwhelming evidence that this is no longer a sane world (if it ever was). So I'm not betting my life savings on this ending well.