Trump, the Post revealed, was an author of the misleading statement his son, Don Jr., issued to explain a meeting between himself and a Russian Intelligence Service Attorney who showed up at Trump Tower, mostly, he said, to talk about orphans. Nobody, however, talks about the substance of the orphan part of the conversation, an omission that’s particularly puzzling under the circumstances.
The President has two stories, at least, about the encounter, though they have changed over time. There’s the orphan version and, next, the one that opposition research is a valid political tool, if and when the meeting ever turned to Clinton. (The FSB lawyer had promised dirt on Hillary to get the meeting.) That the research was represented to be from the “crown prosecutor of Russia,” a man who reports directly to Vladimir Putin, may reveal why Don Jr. was so eager to Kremlinize.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was more circumspect in her opposition research and hired a Washington firm that, in turn, contracted with an ex-British spy, Christopher Steele, to explore Trump’s suspected ties to Russia. Steele’s sources are unknown and, conceivably, could involved Russian intelligence Services, as well. Russia wanted to compromise any candidate it could and disrupt the election. Putin wouldn’t care whom he used to achieve that goal.
Trump dug himself in deeper when he said nothing came out of the meeting. To compound this needless mistake, Jay Sekulow, the President’s personal lawyer, went on TV to say the President had nothing to do with Don Jr.’s statement. He said that it was prepared, solely, by Don Jr., probably, in consultation with Jr.’s own lawyers. Neither State, nor Justice, was clued in about the offer of foreign intelligence.
There is no excuse for Trump not having filled the West Wing with lawyers to keep this sort of thing from happening. They’re many reasons why American prestige overseas is at an all time low. Time will tell when we’ll recover from diplomatic losses, but the President’s bumbling, whenever the topic turns to Russia, casts a pall over his domestic initiatives, cheapens accomplishments, and diminishes the prestige of the presidency at home. It’s bad politics.
If it makes any difference, the “Mooch” got the hook, too, even before he went on the payroll, so he’s ineligible for unemployment benefits. Reince Priebus wasn’t a good manager, either, and his successor, General John Kelly, should help organizationally. What the White House still lacks, most notably, are people who can tamp down reckless enthusiasm and, let’s just say it, random acts of avoidable stupidity.