For months, President Donald Trump and his supporters denied his campaign colluded with Russians to sway the election. Now, Donald Trump Jr.’s Russian rendezvous in June 2016 seems to be the smoking gun liberals desperately sought. Still, what does it all mean? Even many of Trump’s supporters admit this looks bad, but others note it is not illegal and that Democrats used similar info-gathering tactics on the opposition. In American politics today, facts don’t seem to be as important as who can best spin a developing story to their advantage. And there’s quite a bit of spinning going on with Trump Jr.’s Russian meeting. Here are some widely divergent thoughts from the political world.
10. “In language so blunt and obvious it would make a Hollywood screenwriter blush, the emails confirm what the president, his son and others have denied repeatedly for more than a year: that top members of the Trump campaign met with representatives of the Russian government in the expectation of help in damaging Hillary Clinton and getting Donald Trump elected.”
— New York Times editorial, July 11, 2017
This lays out the basic premise of the situation, which certainly does not look good given the White House’s repeated denials of any such meeting.
9. “Let’s assume every single thing the liberals postulate is absolutely true. Let’s say Donald Trump, Jr., knew that the Russian government was using a crew of goofuses to try to feed him negative information on Felonia von Pantsuit and he went to get it and found out they didn’t have any, which is a miracle because if there is one thing in the world there’s a lot of, it’s negative information about Hillary Clinton. … So what?”
— Conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter
Schlichter mentions a common refrain from conservatives — is it illegal to try to gather negative information on your political opponent? Others ask the painful question: But what if that information comes from an enemy of the U.S.?
8. “[T]he fact is three trusted members of Donald Trump’s campaign — his son; son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort — were willing to take a meeting with a foreign agent to see oppo research they assumed was passed on from another government. Aside from all other things, that is inconceivably stupid.”
— David Harsanyi
Harsanyi’s commentary on the conservative site Townhall.com is tellingly entitled, “Trump Jr.’s Meeting May Not Rise to Treason, but It’s Still Shady as Hell.”
7. “The same Moscow-on-the-brain syndrome was dramatically obvious on CNN’s airwaves on the morning of July 12. Our news watchers counted up the minutes on the New Day morning show that were devoted to Russia and other news. The result was jaw-dropping: Ninety-three percent of the news, or two hours and almost 16 minutes, was spent on Russia, and only 10 minutes were spent on the rest of the world.”
— Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center
Bozell’s MRC analyzes media content for what it perceives as liberal bias, and contends the Trump-Russia story has been blown out of proportion for months.
6. “To meet with an adversary to try to get information to hijack democracy, the investigation is now more than just an obstruction of justice investigation, more than just a perjury investigation, it’s a treason investigation.”
— Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
While Kaine noted that the Trump-Russia investigation headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller should consider treason, others have argued that, while Trump Jr.’s actions were shady, by law they weren’t treasonous.
5. “[I]f there’s been any evidence of collusion in 2016 that’s come out at all or been discussed that’s actually happened it would be between the DNC and the Ukrainian government.”
— Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
This storyline advanced by Trump’s supporters stems from a Politico story earlier this year. It alleged that a Ukrainian-American who consulted for the DNC met with Ukrainian embassy officials seeking negative information on Trump.
4. “Not only is this highly suggestive of collusion between Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin, it could also represent the first real journalistic evidence of a possible quid pro quo arrangement between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Specifically, the lifting of sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act could be seen as a partial payment to Russia for helping Trump during the campaign, either politically or financially or both.”
— Left-leaning site Salon.com
The story notes the real purpose of the meeting, a Russian national’s desire to have the U.S. repeal a human-rights act affecting Russian officials.
3. “I was probably pressing because the pretext of the meeting was, ‘Hey I have information about your opponent.’ Really it went nowhere, and it became apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was about.”
— Donald Trump Jr., on the Fox News show Hannity
The president’s son confidently explained and defended his actions on the show, saying he had done nothing wrong.
2. “In a strange way, it’s a relief that President Donald Trump and his various henchmen are such idiots when it comes to dealing with what’s rapidly evolving into a presidency-ending scandal. Otherwise we might not know half of what we’ve heard about the increasingly treacherous Trump-Russia story. If Trump was closer to a real-life Frank Underwood, there’d still be a massive scandal, but the president and his people wouldn’t be inexplicably confessing to it.”
— Liberal pundit Bob Cesca, on Salon.com
Nice allusion to the popular Netflix House of Cards series.
1. “It may be true that nothing came of the meeting … But every single person who was in that room has a very strong incentive to say nothing nefarious happened in the room. Well, when the Soprano crew is jointing a corpse in the backroom of Satriale’s, everyone there has a vested interest in sticking to the story that they were just playing cards.”
— Conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg on NationalReview.com
While there certainly weren’t corpses involved in this situation, we can appreciate Goldberg’s colorful analogy.