For their entire lives, the Trumps have been able to pretty much say or do whatever the hell they want to say or do without any real sense of consequence or accountability. Mistreating people and getting away with it is a part of the Trump DNA. And what we’re seeing this week with Donald Trump Jr., is that the same willingness to compromise ethics, standards and dignity was clearly passed on from father to son.
For six-straight months of the Trump presidency, all we’ve heard from Trump, his adult children, and his die-hard supporters is that the notion that the Russian government backed him or ever attempted to affect the presidential election in any way was an outrageous “witch hunt.” Never mind that numerous intelligence agencies say it happened — Trump said it didn’t, so his base believes him. Then, in what absolutely has to be described as a “smoking gun,” we see an email to Donald Trump Jr. in which the sender writes “this is obviously very high level and sensitive information, but is a part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” to which he responds, “I love it.”
If a “Saturday Night Live” skit concocted such a scenario, it would seem like overkill. The email clearly and specifically says the Russian government is behind the information they want to give to Trump Jr., and he doesn’t reply with shock or dismay or even curiosity, but says “I love it,” then ropes in Trump’s then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner. We don’t see any replies for Kushner or Manafort, but they apparently didn’t raise a red flag to halt the meeting either. They all moved forward with it anyway. Kushner left off all mentions of these meetings on his required paperwork to join the administration. That paperwork was since amended — but despite initially failing to disclose 100 foreign contacts, Kushner still has his job and security clearances.
Last week, Trump Jr. said the planned meeting was about adoptions. It wasn’t. Now that he’s been caught red-handed, and the documentation is overwhelmingly clear, the family is still sticking to the “witch hunt” idea. Except when someone tells you that the Russian government is providing you with incriminating information on your campaign opponent and you reply with “I love it,” that’s not a witch hunt — that’s collusion. We’re no longer dealing with a “where there is smoke, there is fire” scenario. This situation is a fire. That email proves it in plain language.
It appears to me that Trump and his family genuinely don’t care. They’ve cut corners and done people wrong for generations and have always been able to get by without any real consequence. Donald Jr. has shared publicly how his relationship with his father has not always been easy — even going a year without talking to his dad after he cheated on his mother and trashed her in the media. This new ordeal, with Junior looking us all in the face and lying, suggests the apple has not fallen far from the tree when it comes to personal integrity.
In any era other than this one, such bold, brazen lies would have more consequence, but it appears we have entered a time in American history where integrity and accountability no longer matter. Whether Team Trump got what they were looking for in these meetings doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that they clearly believed they were receiving incriminating information from a foreign government and decided to move forward with it anyway. If a scorned lover plots the murder of their spouse, but later finds out that the assassin is a paid informant for the FBI, a crime was still committed. The bottom line is Trump Jr. was told the Russian government was providing him high-level information, and he not only went along with it, but he also proceeded to publicly pretend for a year that such an idea was preposterous.
Many of my most progressive friends have long since held that the Democratic Party’s outrage over Russia’s interference in the election is overblown. These new emails change that. I agree the Democratic Party needs to be able chew gum and walk at the same time by focusing on more than just Russia, but these emails are deeply disturbing and show us the Trumps simply have no moral code.