Plenty to work with

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - John Brum­mett John Brum­mett, whose col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was in­ducted into the Arkansas Writ­ers’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrum­mett@arkansason­ Read his @john­brum­mett Twit­ter feed.

The Trumps have turned up again at that most dan­ger­ous of in­ter­sec­tions where ar­ro­gance and ig­no­rance meet.

Their ar­ro­gance is think­ing they de­serve by their mag­nif­i­cence to win by any means. It’s be­liev­ing their vic­to­ries are as cel­e­brated by oth­ers as by them­selves. It’s think­ing their path to ego-gratification doesn’t mat­ter if the build­ing gets built and the taxes avoided or the White House won.

Their ar­ro­gance is be­liev­ing they needn’t worry about their in­ter­sect­ing ig­no­rance of tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal and gov­ern­men­tal stan­dards of be­hav­ior. They be­lieve that they ex­ist for the very pur­pose of break­ing those rules, what­ever they are.

So, yes, sure, says the Prince of Ar­ro­gance, Don­ald Trump Jr., when a Rus­sian mu­si­cal agent known to the Trumps tells him by email that a woman Rus­sian lawyer with ties to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment wants to meet with him to de­liver dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton. The agent says in the email that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment to which the lawyer is tied wants Trump to win the pres­i­dency.

Ju­nior sets up the meet­ing and rounds up the at­ten­dance of the hus­band of the Princess of Ar­ro­gance and a hired hand with close ties to Rus­sia.

Ar­ro­gance says this could help us win. Ar­ro­gance is puffed up by Rus­sian ad­mi­ra­tion.

Ig­no­rance says the same thing, not know­ing any bet­ter.

The pow­er­ful blend of ar­ro­gance and ig­no­ra­tion pre­vents even a fleet­ing thought that would oc­cur al­most in­stantly to any­one knowl­edge­able and ex­pe­ri­enced and ob­jec­tive, which is that the Rus­sian over­ture is wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

It keeps Trump Jr. from be­ing aware that there might be fac­tors at play even more im­por­tant than the fam­ily’s mega­lo­ma­nia. Those fac­tors are in­tegrity and the greater na­tional in­ter­est.

In­tegrity is some­thing you have or don’t. Con­cern for the greater na­tional in­ter­est re­quires knowl­edge of the greater na­tional in­ter­est.

Trump Jr.’s ul­ti­mate de­fense is that the lawyer’s in­for­ma­tion was non­sense and noth­ing came of the meet­ing.

But that’s no de­fense. It’s rot­ten luck.

It could be that this was a tac­tic by Rus­sian op­er­a­tives to find out how eas­ily the Trumps could be had.

If so, the an­swer was that they could be had laugh­ably eas­ily — that they were soft marks on two ac­counts, one that they were blinded by ego and self-ab­sorp­tion, and the other that they had no clue as to their obli­ga­tions to a greater na­tional in­ter­est.

That obli­ga­tion, at the least, was to dis­miss out of hand the prospect of any such dal­liance with a Rus­sian lawyer, and, at the most, to con­vey the email over­ture di­rectly to the FBI for what­ever in­quiry it saw fit.

Rev­e­la­tions of this dal­liance with the Rus­sian lawyer so rat­tled the White House that all Pres­i­dent Trump could say ini­tially was that his son was a good man and that he ad­mired his son’s trans­parency in re­leas­ing the damn­ing emails (only be­cause he knew they were about to be re­leased by oth­ers).

In a cou­ple of hours, the Repub­li­can brain trust had come up with a coun­ter­punch.

It turns out that Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives had asked Ukrainian em­bassy sources last year for in­for­ma­tion about Trump’s busi­ness deal­ings in Rus­sia as well as those of his tem­po­rary cam­paign chair­man, Paul Manafort, who, by the way, was the hired hand in the meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer.

Repub­li­cans asked: What’s the dif­fer­ence? Why no me­dia out­rage?

The Demo­cratic sin is, in this case, plainly much lesser.

First, Ukraine isn’t the dan­ger­ous ri­val that Rus­sia is. Sec­ond, the Demo­cratic op­er­a­tives weren’t the Clin­tons them­selves en­ter­tain­ing mys­te­ri­ous Ukrainian sources. Third, the Democrats knew what they were look­ing for and with whom they were work­ing. Trump Jr. was open to any­thing this mys­tery lawyer might bring to him in Trump Tower.

Is this be­hav­ior by Trump Jr. a vi­o­la­tion of the fed­eral law that pro­hibits a cam­paign’s so­lic­i­ta­tion or ac­cep­tance of money or other mat­ter of value from a for­eign gov­ern­ment?

That’s a ques­tion for Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel.

I am struck by the sim­i­lar­ity of this mat­ter to that of the se­nior Trump’s lean­ing on FBI di­rec­tor James Comey to drop an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Michael Flynn.

In both cases, a le­gal trans­gres­sion ap­pears to have oc­curred. Daddy was try­ing to ob­struct jus­tice. Ju­nior was try­ing to se­cure some­thing of value from a for­eign gov­ern­ment.

But in nei­ther case did the tech­ni­cal crim­i­nal­ity amount to any­thing. The Flynn in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ued. The Rus­sian lawyer left Trump Jr. empty-handed.

She went home, per­haps to tell of­fi­cials in the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment that what she had en­coun­tered in New York was plenty of ar­ro­gance and ig­no­rance for the Rus­sians to work with.

And speak­ing of ar­ro­gance and ig­no­rance — or, more ac­cu­rately, rag­ing non­sense — the pres­i­dent, by the next morn­ing, was tweet­ing to cite “fake news” … for emails his son re­leased.

Daddy was sug­gest­ing Ju­nior was the vic­tim. I be­lieve that’s right—of his genes, mostly.

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