How fitting it is that within 48 hours of Friday’s embarrassing sitdown – when Putin assured his American chump that the Russians never dug for dirt on Hillary – we then learned that the chump’s eldest son took a meeting in June ‘16 with a Kremlin-connected lawyer because he anticipated getting Russian dirt on Hillary.
As if Bob Mueller didn’t already have enough to work with.Not only did the free and independent press break the news this weekend that Donald Trump Jr. met with the Russian lawyer because he was promised damaging Hillary info, but Junior stupidly admitted it in a Sunday statement – confirming, for the first time, that Trump’s motley crew was willing to accept Russian help in the campaign.Instead of pumping out the usual “fake news” fog, Junior said that, yes, he met lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya because she was offering campaign assistance. But alas, he said, “it quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information” about Hillary, and that “the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”Bingo! Junior just admitted that he sought to collude with the Russians – in a meeting that also featured Trump campaign manager (and longtime Russia-allied strategist) Paul Manafort, as well as over-his-head son-in-law Jared Kushner. This Kremlingate scandal just got even juicier, and a lot more serious.Indeed, if it wasn’t so serious – with such profound implications for American democracy (what’s left of it) and our standing in the world (mocked even by our allies) – Junior’s shifting lies and evasions would be hilarious. He clearly learned lying at the feet of the master, but he’s digging the master a deeper hole.Last March, Junior insisted that he never attended any campaign-related meetings with any Russians: “Did I meet with people that were Russian? None that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way shape, or form.”Then, two days ago, when The New York Times broke the news about his meeting with Veselnitskaya, he said: Yeah OK, the meeting was set up – but it was just “a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.” (The full story is that Putin killed the adoption program in retaliation for America’s passage of an anti-Russian human rights law. Veselnitskaya was lobbying Trump to kill that law.)Then yesterday, when The Times posted its second weekend story, about how Veselnitskaya got her meeting because she had promised to share campaign dirt on Hillary, Junior recalibrated his spin to essentially say: Yeah OK, I took the meeting because I was promised dirt.Let’s also remember what else was going on at the time. A hacker named Guccifer – known for using Russian proxy servers – had announced in May that Hillary emails had been stolen. And three days after the Junior-Kushner-Manafort meeting with the Russian lawyer, Putin ally Julian Assange announced that “we have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton.”We’ll leave it to Bob Mueller to connect those dots. It’s enough for now that various legal experts are sniffing the stench. Laurence Tribe, the Harvard Law maven, says of Junior’s meeting that the “attempted theft of a presidential campaign in collusion with Putin” is “a serious felony and a high crime against the state.” Richard Painter, who served as George W. Bush’s in-house ethics watchdog, says that if Junior “intended to get illegally stolen private information from the Russians, it was illegal for him to attempt to do so. Just like buying stolen goods from a known fence.”And hang on, folks. While I was writing this, Junior fled to Twitter and concocted brand-new spin, laced with sarcasm: “Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent….had to listen.”Bingo again! The meeting he at first denied ever happened, the meeting that happened but was supposedly just about child adoption, was actually a collusion meeting – and now he’s apparently fine with that, because collusion with a foreign adversary, who might have illegally stolen info, is good.So said Junior at 9:55 a.m. – thereby throwing Kellyanne Conway under the bus, because at 8:03 a.m. she jibberjabbered on CNN that the meeting was not about opposition research.The sheer incompetence of these people, their inability to get their stories straight, has been obvious from the opening bell. Back in January, when Mike Pence was asked “if any adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign had any contact with Russians who were meddling in the campaign,” the president-in-waiting replied, “No, of course not.”But by now, as Junior is demonstrating anew, their spinning woes are the least of their problems.———-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.