Trump’s ever-changing stories on Russia
This appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
In the month after the start of the Second World War, Winston Churchill said he couldn’t determine what Russia was going to do: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Nearly eight decades later, the same can be said about the Trump administration’s relationships with Russia.
Since Friday, when President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the president and his spokespeople have offered conflicting and contradictory accounts of what was said and agreed to.
Among the questions: What happened to the joint cybersecurity agreement Trump said had been reached? Were U.S. sanctions against Russia brought up? Those riddles quickly got swallowed up by a bigger mystery: Trump arrived home as The New York Times was reporting that in June 2016, his eldest son, son-in-law and then-campaign manager secretly met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. Donald Trump Jr. claimed the meeting was about Russia’s ban on adoptions by U.S. families.
It got worse. On Sunday the Times reported that Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had been lured to the meeting with a promise that the lawyer had potentially damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
A third shoe dropped when the Times reported the meeting was arranged after Trump Jr. got an email from a well-connected Moscow music publicist saying lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya had information that was part of a Russian government scheme to help Trump’s candidacy by hurting Clinton’s.
Then on Tuesday morning the Times published the text of publicist Rob Goldstone’s email: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Did Trump Jr. call a lawyer or the FBI? No, he hit reply: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Trump Jr. said Monday that he’d be happy to talk about all of this with the Senate Intelligence Committee. As soon as he’s under oath, the first question must be, “How much of this did you tell your father?”