http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/11/opinions/trump-jr-russia-opinion-ghitis/index.htmlDonald Trump Jr.'s decision to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had alleged ties to the Kremlin may be the most baffling move by a high-level political operative in recent memory. Second only to his apparent thinking that such a meeting would be a good decision.
The emails show -- and, by releasing them, Trump Jr. acknowledges -- that he agreed to meet someone he was told was a "Russia government attorney," and someone who was alleged to have "very high level and sensitive information" to incriminate Hillary Clinton.
In short, the emails suggest he was prepared to meet with a potential agent of a hostile foreign government. And because he was joined by key campaign players Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, we know this was no casual meeting.
Why would Trump Jr. make these communications public? It seems that he was trying to beat the New York Times to the punch line, releasing the emails in the name of transparency -- a decision his father later praised.Regardless, the President's son has shown astonishingly poor judgment.
The email chain only makes this whole incident look more troubling. Earlier, Trump Jr. explained that he had met with the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya to discuss adoptions. Then he claimed he didn't know who he was meeting, adding that the she didn't offer dirt on Clinton -- as if that somehow made the meeting acceptable.
Whether or not this might amount to treason, as Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, suggested, or whether it represents collusion, coordination, obstruction or any violation of the law are not the main issues. Instead, what should trouble the American people most is whether this incident will lead investigators to evidence that Trump acquiesced to and accepted help from Russia, based on the Kremlin's interference in the heart of America's democracy, its presidential elections. And if there is something beyond that.One of the most curious aspects of Trump's political campaign and his presidency has been his interest in reversing policy on Russia.
That became strikingly evident just one month after the meeting with Veselnitskaya, when Republican delegates met to draft the platform for the party's convention.Trump's dealings with Russia are a never-ending stream of controversy.
He met in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador to the United States, giving them highly classified information. As President, Trump has the authority to declassify any material he wishes to, but the move -- revealing information provided by an ally without the ally's permission -- was shocking. Critics called it "reckless" and "dangerous."Trump has gone out on a thin limb, risking charges of obstruction of justice to protect Mike Flynn, who lost his White House job after lying about contacts with Russians.
Half a dozen campaign aides failed to disclose contacts with Russia. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions initially denied, under oath, meeting with the Russians. He reversed course when journalists uncovered evidence of his meeting with the Russian ambassador and then claimed the two had not discussed the campaign.
Trump is eager to move forward on cooperation with Russia, as we saw after his meeting with Putin in Hamburg, but the cloud hanging over his administration has so far prevented policy reversals. The fallout right now would be too great. We now know that Russia did work to help Trump get elected. US intelligence agencies have "high confidence" in that, and the emails suggest it.
We can also see that Trump is, in fact, trying to recast US policy in some areas beneficial to Putin. It happened during the Republican platform drafting, and it has continued during his presidency.
What we don't know, and the key to how this will unfold, is whether the latter is a consequence of the former. But if Trump Jr. continues trying to defend himself so ineptly, we may soon get the answers from him.