Still miss­ing the smok­ing gun

Vladimir Putin’s regime wanted Don­ald Trump to win the pres­i­dency and was will­ing to help

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Gwynne Dyer Gwynne Dyer is an in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist whose ar­ti­cles are pub­lished in 45 coun­tries.

Like the dili­gent jour­nal­ist I am, I went on­line within min­utes of the news that Don­ald Trump Jr. had put “in­crim­i­nat­ing” emails about his meet­ing with Rus­sian lawyer and lob­by­ist Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya on Twit­ter. I opened the Washington Post site and there, nes­tled be­tween the para­graphs of their lead story on Trump Jr., was an ad for a box set of “The Walk­ing Dead.” And I thought...

Well, ac­tu­ally, I thought that this stinks to high heaven, but it is still not the “smok­ing gun.” The dead will con­tinue to walk around for a while yet.

The emails prove that Ju­nior (not a naive youth but a 39-year-old busi­ness­man who has fre­quently done work in Rus­sia) met the Rus­sian lob­by­ist in the Trump Tower to­gether with Ivanka’s hus­band Jared Kush­ner and Paul Manafort, then the el­der Trump’s cam­paign man­ager.

They had been told that Ve­sel­nit­skaya was a “Rus­sian gov­ern­ment lawyer.”

The emails also show that Trump Jr. be­lieved Ve­sel­nit­skaya would “pro­vide the Trump cam­paign with some of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion that would in­crim­i­nate Hil­lary and her deal­ings with Rus­sia and would be very use­ful to your fa­ther.”

That’s what Rob Gold­stone,

the slip­pery Bri­tish mu­sic pub­li­cist who acted as a go-be­tween, told him.

Trump Jr. (and pre­sum­ably Kush­ner and Manafort too) al­ready knew that Vladimir Putin’s regime wanted Don­ald Trump to win the pres­i­dency and was will­ing to help.

“This is ob­vi­ously very high level and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion but is part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump,” said Gold­stone’s ini­tial email, which did not elicit any ex­pres­sion of sur­prise from Ju­nior and his friends.

Fi­nally, the emails show that the U.S. pres­i­dent’s el­dest son was en­thu­si­as­tic about the idea that he could get some dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton from the Rus­sians.

“If it’s what you say, I love it, es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer,” he emailed back to Gold­stone.

But the emails do not show what ac­tu­ally hap­pened at the meet­ing.

For that we only have Trump Ju­nior’s word, and as long as the other two men back him up he can say what­ever he likes about it.

The meet­ing in the Trump Tower took place in June, 2016, when the servers of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee had al­ready been hacked by the Rus­sians (ac­cord­ing to the unan­i­mous con­clu­sion of all the U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies), but be­fore any of the in­for­ma­tion gained had been used. But later in the sum­mer, by some strange co­in­ci­dence, Ju­nior’s hopes for a ma­jor Rus­sian strike against Hil­lary Clin­ton were mirac­u­lously ful­filled.

That hap­pened just be­fore the Democrats held their na­tional con­ven­tion in late July, when there was a large dump of emails on Wik­iLeaks show­ing that the DNC had sys­tem­at­i­cally loaded the dice in favour of Hil­lary Clin­ton and against Bernie San­ders.

It didn’t stop Clin­ton from get­ting the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, and if the Rus­sians re­ally wanted Trump to win the pres­i­dency they should have been back­ing Clin­ton.

San­ders would prob­a­bly have given Trump more of a run for his money. But seen from Moscow, sab­o­tag­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton prob­a­bly looked like a clever move at the time.

So there it all is, and it wouldn’t be enough to im­peach Don­ald Trump even if the Democrats con­trolled Congress.

In fact, the Repub­li­cans have ma­jori­ties in both the Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and Trump wouldn’t be im­peached even if he were caught in bed (as they say in Washington) with a live boy or a dead girl.

It isn’t the smok­ing gun be­cause we will never know what was re­ally said in that meet­ing. It is very hard to be­lieve that Don­ald Trump him­self didn’t know about the meet­ing when his three clos­est po­lit­i­cal ad­vis­ers were all there, but his de­nial will stand un­less one of those three men chooses to say other­wise.

Yet he re­ally is a “dead man walk­ing.” It will be a very long walk — the slow death of a thou­sand lit­tle cuts — but the steady drip of mi­nor and ma­jor rev­e­la­tions about his Rus­sian links (and other em­bar­rass­ing top­ics) will con­tinue.

And one day his tax re­turns will prob­a­bly be leaked, which could be the fi­nal blow.

He won’t be im­peached, but he’s not hav­ing fun any more, and at some point it will all get too much for him.

He will sim­ply re­sign (he’s in his 70s, so he can just plead ill health) — and we will get Pres­i­dent Pence in­stead.

FILE PHOTO

Don­ald Trump Jr.

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