Donald Trump JR–The Culture of Dishonesty

July 12, 2017

by The NY Times Editorial Board

At a critical juncture in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year, his son Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who promised to share political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a key strategist, also attended.

The June 9, 2016, meeting is of obvious interest to Robert Mueller III, the Justice Department special counsel investigating the Trump team’s potential involvement in Russia’s effort to influence the presidential election. In two clumsy statements over the weekend, the younger Mr. Trump on Saturday said the meeting was related to Russia’s freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans. When confronted a day later with a Times story citing authoritative sources that Ms. Veselnitskaya had promised damaging material on Mrs. Clinton, he said that the information she supplied was essentially meaningless and merely a “pretext” for discussing the adoption issue.

On the face of it, this seemed a clear though perhaps unintended admission by Donald Trump Jr. that he had gone into the meeting expecting damaging information, and the episode is clearly grist for Mr. Mueller’s mill. As is a report Monday night by The Times that the president’s son had received an email saying Ms. Veselnitskaya’s information came from Moscow. But his shifty statements are also further evidence of how freely his father and the people around the president contort the truth. Only six months in, President Trump has compiled a record of dishonesty — ranging from casual misstatements to flat-out lies — without precedent in the modern presidency. Equally disheartening is his team’s willingness to share in his mendacity.

On Sunday, before Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that there was a Clinton-related aspect to the meeting, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, was on Fox News suggesting that the Veselnitskaya episode was “a big nothingburger” for the Trump campaign.

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If a culture of dishonesty takes root in an administration, how can Americans believe anything its officials say? Take, for instance, the matter of whether President Vladimir Putin of Russia personally directed Moscow’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election. In statements dating from his first days in office until the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin in Germany last week, when he said “nobody really knows,” Mr. Trump has deflected and sought to discredit his own intelligence agencies’ finding that Moscow, at Mr. Putin’s direction, tried to disrupt the election to help him win. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said after the American and Russian presidents met in Hamburg that they “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” and that Mr. Trump had “pressed” Mr. Putin on the issue. Later, Mr. Trump made much the same claim on Twitter. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had quite a different version of the facts, suggesting that Mr. Trump had characterized the hacking controversy as a “campaign” against Russia in which “not a single fact has been produced.” So whom should Americans believe? In a more credible administration, who would ever ask?

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On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. hired a lawyer, while maintaining on Twitter that he’d been forthright in answering questions about the meeting last year. Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary, blew more smoke: The “only thing I see inappropriate” about the meeting, she said, is that it was leaked to the media.

5 thoughts on “Donald Trump JR–The Culture of Dishonesty

  1. The June 2016 email thread in which Donald Trump Jr. was offered Russian government help for the Trump campaign has now been released, and it is utterly damning. The email thread makes clear that Donald Trump Jr. was aware of and willing to support a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. It suggests that Kushner and Manafort were also in the loop. And it raises serious questions of how Donald Trump himself could have kept professing to disbelieve claims that Russia was helping him. It’s now impossible to dispute that the investigations into the Trump campaign, and Russian collusion is an extremely serious matter. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry needs to proceed unimpeded, and congressional investigators need to do their own work as well. The country needs to get to the bottom of what happened here.

    Trump is reported to be consumed by rage over the fact that his son Donald Jr. has been caught up in the Russia scandal, while the White House has kept the President hidden from any domestic public appearances as they fear what might happen if they let him out in public. Donald Trump is enraged, which means that it’s only a matter of time until he explodes and goes completely off the rails, which is why the White House is keeping him hidden. A publicly talking Trump is a president who will give investigators enough rope to impeach him.

    The Russia scandal is breaking apart the Republican Party as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) fumed at the Trump administration during an interview on Fox News. Republicans in Congress aren’t worried that the Russia scandal is going to hurt them with their base back home. Most Republicans don’t believe that the Russia scandal is real. What Republicans are terrified of is returning to their districts and having no accomplishments to run on in 2018. House Republicans already know that they are going to lose seats next year, but what terrifies them most is the idea that the midterm could turn into a bloodbath if they have the majority and the White House and come home with zero accomplishments. Trump has few allies in Congress who are loyal to him. If Republicans in the House and Senate come to the conclusion that they are better off without Trump, they will toss him aside. The cracks are beginning to appear in the Republican majority. Trey Gowdy expressed publicly what many Republicans are thinking privately. If Trump can’t get the Russia scandal under control, it will be Donald Trump that will need to go.

    The Trump administration isn’t a farce. It’s a tragedy. Even if Donald Jr. admits all responsibilities to take the fall for his father, we’re faced with a crisis that leaves vast swaths of American politics stained. The election is tainted. The White House is tainted. Our foreign policy is tainted. If impeachment seems impossible, it’s only because we believe that Republicans in Congress would sooner protect a criminal administration than risk their legislative agenda to uphold the rule of law – which is all to say, Congress is tainted, too. The actors in this drama are often comic, pathetic, and incompetent. But the damage they’ve done, and are doing, is almost beyond imagining. As often as this looks like farce, we should not forget it’s a tragedy.

  2. Donald Trump,as a businessman,reality tv host,primary candidate and now president,is a born liar.This dude have no shame,and has a habit of telling at least one lie every day.One day just in one campaign speech,he lied 17 times.He will be in a mental facility if he did not tell a lie at least once a day.

    Well,like father like son,and like father like daughter.Even the sweet face of the family,Ivanka,have been caught lying umpteen times in public.She is now one of the most disgusting and disliked woman in power.Many of her goods have been boycotted by the American public.

    And Donald Junior,is not only a liar,but the black sheep of the family.People working in the Trump organization and in the campaign,have been talking and making fun and jokes behind his back.Even comparing him to Fredo of the godfather.What a family.

    With the Groper in Chief in the WH,lawyers representing the Trumps and surrogates are laughing all the way to the bank.With the law firm staff working triple times.With new shoes dropping each and everyday,hey,who can blame them when money is falling from the skies.So much for “draining the swarm”.

  3. Their whole life and business have been built on lies and deceit. Unfortunately there are many Americans who believe in them and fascinated by their socalled wealth.

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