From Rus­sia with ‘love it’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

The Trump fam­ily—fa­ther, son, son-in­law—has hedged and hemmed and hawed about the al­leged “Rus­sian con­nec­tion,” the claims that Rus­sia in­ter­fered in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The American in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity agrees with that as­sess­ment, and even Trump him­self has waf­fled, lately in­di­cat­ing he thinks it may be so, though he al­ways seems to add a fig­u­ra­tive “maybe not.” But Trump has con­sis­tently and em­phat­i­cally de­nied there was any “col­lu­sion” be­tween his cam­paign and the Rus­sians to dis­credit Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Now, how­ever, a bomb­shell has been de­liv­ered to the president by his son, Don­ald Trump Jr. The younger Trump ad­mits he met with a Rus­sian lawyer in Trump Tower in New York in June 2016, ex­pect­ing through a con­nec­tion that she might have some dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on Clin­ton. An email to Trump Jr. from a trusted con­nec­tion to the Rus­sians stated the Rus­sians’ in­tent baldly: “This is ob­vi­ously very high level and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion but is part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. replied within min­utes: “If it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer.”

Noth­ing came of the meet­ing, said Trump Jr., who ini­tially dis­missed the meet­ing as one sought by the lawyer so she could ap­peal for changes in a U.S. pol­icy that black­lists Rus­sian hu­man rights vi­o­la­tors. But now the lawyer says she was in fact sum­moned to Trump Tower, and didn’t beg for the meet­ing her­self.

So now the spot­light gets brighter on the Trumps and Rus­sia, and Repub­li­cans and Democrats are say­ing they need to know more from Trump the Younger. And in the back­ground, there is an echo of Water­gate in the ques­tion now loom­ing over Trump re­gard­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the cam­paign: What did the president know and when did he know it?

For it ap­pears his son was ea­ger to see if the Rus­sians might have dirt on Clin­ton, and Trump Jr. didn’t shy away from a meet­ing to find out. He also called in Jared Kush­ner, a son-in-law and trusted ad­viser to Trump Sr., and one-time cam­paign chief Paul Manafort, who’s made mil­lions rep­re­sent­ing for­eign in­ter­ests with ties to Rus­sia.

The pres­sure is go­ing to dou­ble, and dou­ble again, on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, which al­ready has an in­ves­ti­ga­tion go­ing on the Rus­sian con­nec­tion. That com­mit­tee is chaired by North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, a Trump sup­porter whose en­tire Se­nate ca­reer is go­ing to be de­fined by whether he ag­gres­sively pur­sues the truth, or whether the in­ves­ti­ga­tion sim­ply withers in the shadow of an in­de­pen­dent probe by a man who does mean busi­ness, for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor Robert Mueller.

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