Line by ugly line, Donald J. Trump Jr.’s emails with British-born former tabloid reporter and Russian intermediary Rob Goldstone are now plastered on The New York Times website. They reveal an astounding set of communications. Goldstone promises incriminating information about Hillary Clinton that could be used in the campaign—with the Kremlin’s backing. Junior’s response should have been to speed dial the FBI. Instead, he writes three little words with big, big consequences: “I love it.”
It’s quite a turn for the First Son. Just a few months ago, The New York Times gave him a fawning spread replete with woodsy photos. Now his association with dirt doesn’t look quite so good.
My three big takeaways from this breaking story:
1) The key word in The New York Times piece is “flurry.” There isn’t one email exchange. There are many. Trump Jr.’s email “dump” will not be the end of the story. Instead, as Churchill once said, it’s just the end of the beginning. Investigators and journalists will be following the email trail.
2) Even the emails released so far paint a damning portrait. The “we didn’t know better, we’re just amateurs” defense with respect to foreign policy—which the White House has been using to this point—will not hold up. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort attended the now-infamous June 9, 2016 meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Manafort is no neophyte in this world. He has worked on multiple Republican presidential campaigns over decades. What’s more, the red line, whether it’s a legal or political one, is: “Thou shalt not work with foreign powers to gain advantage in a U.S. election.” As former FBI director Jim Comey would put it, there is no fuzz on this whatsoever. Even if the foreign power involved were the Brits and not the Russians, meeting with a foreign government to get opposition dirt for a U.S. presidential election is wrong and probably illegal.