The latest on the Trump-Russia story

I hesitate to add to the cacophony over this, and by "this" I mean Donald Trump Junior's confirmation that despite months of emphatic denials, very senior members of the Trump campaign were involved in efforts to get anti-Clinton information from the Russian government. But I wanted to put in one place links to some of the most interesting commentary on the subject.

First a quick summary of what I'm talking about:

Over the last several days The New York Times published a series of articles about a meeting in Trump Tower on June 9 of last year between Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Veselnitskaya is a Russian attorney with reported ties to the Russian government (though she denies that). Jared Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump and apparently very close to his father-in-law, having been given a number of major assignments in the administration. Paul J Manafort was at the time the head of the Trump campaign.

Trump Jr had previously denied ever taking part in campaign-related meetings with Russian nationals, but in response to the new revelations he offered a changing story that culminated yesterday -- hours before a new story was expected from the Times -- in his release on Twitter of the email exchange that led to the meeting in question. (For a more readable version see this this article at Talking Points Memo.)

The emails as well as Trump Jr's recent public statements make it clear that he expected the meeting to be about information that would be harmful to Hillary Clinton and hence helpful to his father's campaign, information he was expressly told was part of the Russian government's efforts to help the elder Trump.

Moreover, in one email he wrote of the advantage of having the information come out later in the summer, and as you probably recall, damaging hacked DNC emails were indeed released later in the summer, emails that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded were obtained by their Russian counterparts in an effort to influence the U.S. election.

Even if it's true, as Trump Jr says, that no anti-Clinton information was forthcoming at the meeting, the point remains that he along with other senior people in the Trump campaign pretty clearly expected to get aid from the Russian government to help defeat Clinton. A number of lawyers of both parties suggest this was likely a violation of U.S. law. (Trump Jr recently hired a criminal defense attorney.) Others, including Republicans, have gone so far as to label it "treason."

On a lighter note, Nicole Lafond at Talking Points Memo yesterday quoted journalist Jared Yates Sexton as saying over a series of tweets, "That sound you just heard was every Trump lawyer in DC opening the window and screaming. [...] I chased this story for a year and he just...tweeted it out. Like, I spent hours and days and weeks and months. And his son just, hit tweet. I tracked down sources. Followed so many dead leads. Labored over this. And then, he just, you know, tweeted out the proof."

Below is Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian influence on the 2016 election, on PBS News Hour yesterday. Warner, a former governor of Virginia who was previously a venture capitalist, is a moderate Democrat known for working across the aisle and not an extreme partisan.


Link: https://youtu.be/sJQvuOvGXKU

Of course, late night comedy shows have had a grand time with the news. My favorite bit was this from Stephen Colbert (who makes some pretty valid points along with the snarky jokes):


Link: https://youtu.be/anAYFvvYO40

Trevor Noah also did a god job with the story on The Daily Show Monday and Tuesday nights:


Link: https://youtu.be/ApX8fF8Ghcs


Link: https://youtu.be/xwr7pEgPqk4

That's enough for now, but at the rate things are going you should probably keep watching the news, or at least the political comedy shows.

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