Just as the dust had begun to settle on the Russian meeting scandal – where Donald Trump Jr. was forced to admit he did meet with a Russian lawyer during the campaign – the Washington Post has a new story out this evening that does not look good for President Donald Trump.
One of the more controversial aspects of the original story was that Trump Jr. claimed the meeting was about a Russian child adoption program. Later news reports proved that Jr.’s statement was misleading at best. The Post’s story now puts blame of the misleading statement squarely on the shoulders of the President himself.
The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.
But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.
Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared a story, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”
For a story which was actually much more a story of unethical practices than law-breaking ones, the President seems to have weighed the two options – tell the truth or lie – and come to the conclusion that another lie wouldn’t hurt. This is especially vexing, given that the administration leaks like an old boat with termite damage.
After all, where do you think tonight’s story came from?
To be clear, this is yet another story which in no way proves something illegal happened. It is, however, a story that shows that honesty and integrity are nowhere near the aims of the President’s moral code.
Let’s be honest: the media will have a field day over this story, which is based on anonymous sources and could very well be a misinterpretation of something else. But, given how the story originally played out, with more and more information showing that there was something shady going on, this has the potential to be another week’s worth of headaches for the administration… in a week where the Trump campaign has already had to reshuffle/fire staff (again).
This presidency is, as I’ve said before, just a series of own-goal after own-goal, which very few successes (if any) to claim. It has spent so much of its time on defense against the media and the Democratic Party that there is virtually nothing aside from Neal Gorsuch to applaud it on.
All of this happened, of course, prior to John Kelly coming on as Chief of Staff, so perhaps this is the last such own-goal. Unless of course the general does not hire somebody to slap the President’s phone out of his hand every time he starts to tweet.