Essex column: Wait … the Russians are supporting Dad??
Imagine being Donald Trump Jr.
Difficult, I know — his life isn’t like most of ours. But play along.
One day, you get an email that reads, “Emin just called and asked me to contact you 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 her dealings with Russia and would 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 — helped along by Aras and Emin.
“What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
“I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Several things might jump out at you.
Crown prosecutor of Russia. Wow. Maybe not, though — maybe your pal Rob, a publicist and former tabloid journalist, is always writing about Crown prosecutors.
So you move on. Information that would incriminate Hillary and be very useful to your father. (That’s Crooked Hillary, so, yeah, of course.)
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump …”
Again, I am not Donald Trump Jr., but that might stop me.
Wait, I might think — the Russian government is supporting Dad? Hmmm. Is that good?
Should I tell someone? Maybe as an American citizen, a patriot, a functionary in my father’s campaign, hmmm, maybe I should notify the authorities. Maybe the FBI?
Maybe I shouldn’t go to this meeting …
Let me think this through. Rob says the Crown prosecutor of Russia wants to help my dad’s campaign to lead the United States of America with dirt on Hillary.
(Note: The New York Times, which broke the story of Don Jr.’s meeting and emails, says “Crown prosecutor,” which is not a title in Russia, referred to Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika, the country’s prosecutor general. OK, back to Don Jr.’s musings …)
Well, I have no doubt there’s lots of dirt on Hillary.
And Dad says he’d get along great with Putin.
So it must be OK.
So Donald Trump Jr., after 17 minutes of contemplating the global and historic implications of what a British publicist has just sent him, replies:
“Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
I love it.
I’d love getting information about a former U.S. senator, secretary of state and first lady from a longtime enemy of the United States that’s led by a dictatorial former spymaster. I can totally trust that, and I certainly would be putting my country first, above politics. This is clearly the patriotic, American thing to do.
Oh, but I better not tell Dad so that if this ever comes out, his people can say, “The president was not aware of, and did not attend, the meeting.”
But I better bring along my bro-in-law Jared and the campaign manager, Paul Manafort, the guy who got $17 million from the Kremlin-backed party in Ukraine.
• • •
Enough of trying to be in Donald Trump Jr.’s head. Let’s apply some basic logic.
The Trump administration and family insists that the campaign did not collude with Russia in its efforts to sway the election for Trump. Trump himself still says he’s not sure that Russia was behind email hacks and leaks in the campaign.
If that were true, wouldn’t it be really surprising to the president’s son that someone wanted to provide him with information that’s “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump?”
If that were a shock, wouldn’t a reasonable person take more than 17 minutes to sort through the options?
If you weren’t seeking to … collaborate (collude seems like such a felonious, perhaps treasonous term) … with a foreign power, wouldn’t you seek some advice about how such a brazen come-on should be handled?
It simply defies logic to think that, if what the Trump camp has been saying about Russia is remotely true, you would not step back and really think about how to handle this.
That’s not what happened, and that means there’s only one way to read the email exchange that Trump Jr. acknowledges as true and that he released Tuesday:
It was no surprise to him that the Russians were trying to swing the election to his father, he loved the possibility of getting dirt on Clinton from an enemy that spies on us, and he was so excited that he had to bring the campaign manager who already was in the Russians’ pocket along to the meeting.
Politics ain’t beanbag, we know this.
But we can no longer pretend that the Trump team was ignorant of Russian meddling.
That’s the very least we can no longer pretend.
Randy Essex is editor and publisher of the Post Independent.
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