The New York Times has now published what The Huffington Post calls “the smoking gun,” and some on Twitter suggest is virtual proof that the Trump campaign was involved with overt collusion with the Russian government to tilt the election in favor of Donald Trump and to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr.’s response to the email he got explaining what they had: “I love it.” Some chunks of the story:

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

That is about as explicit as it gets: a foreign government wanted to give the Trump campaign material to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Or stripped away from personalities: a foreign government was offering someone close to a campaign help to defeat another candidate it did not wish to see elected. Now, if the person and campaign accepted that info? Yes, it is collusion. But get ready for Fox News and Sean Hannity to insist every person running for President back to George Washington accepted foreign help. Facts do not matter in today’s American politics; what matters is the repetition of political mantras over and over and facts being called fake. We’ve seen this in countries before, but never to this extent in the United States of America. MORE:

If the future president’s elder son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.

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

“I love it” can be spun and explained away, but there it is.

To try and beat the NY Times story, Donald Trump, Jr released his email chain on this subject.

Now, will he answer questions from the press?

N-o.

He’s going on Sean Hannity’s show tonight — which is the same as Sean Spicer interviewing. Hannity is Mr. P.R. for conservative Republicans a real fake news spreader who labels facts as fakes news and reportedly an informal Trump advisor who has openly called on Trump to marginalize the non-entertainment media press. MORE:

Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

In other words: the campaign’s high echelon. And, somehow, it will be spun that candidate Donald Trump knew nothing whatsoever about it (despite his open proclamations that he welcomed Clinton emails to be released):

On June 9, the Russian lawyer was sitting in the younger Mr. Trump’s office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below the office of the future president.

Over the last several days, The New York Times has disclosed the existence of the meeting, whom it involved and what it was about. The story has unfolded as The Times has been able to confirm details of the meetings.

And this summarizes it all:

But the email exchanges, which were reviewed by The Times, offer a detailed unspooling of how the meeting with the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, came about — and just how eager Donald J. Trump was to accept what he was explicitly told was the Russian government’s help.

The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

The larger question is how American democracy responds to this unfolding story.

I’m increasingly pessimistic that enough of the values and principles of the former Republican Party will sufficiently defend norms. I increasingly believe that if Special Counsel Robert Mueller is fired by Trump GOPers won’t hold Trump accountable. Fox News has now evolved into state-run TV with some excellent serious reporters but the bulk of it essentially a propaganda wing for the Trump administration.

To (God save me) paraphrase Ann Coulter, Hannity would defend Trump if he moved way to the right, way to the left, and I believe even if in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack the administration sought and got special powers that clamped down on the right of assembly and freedom of the press. DEMOCRACY is now less important to some than not ceding an inch to democrats or the fact-reality-based non-entertainment news media.

So the question continues to be not entirely this unfolding story.

It’s whether the Republican Party and its leaders will defend norms and behavior that would not be tolerated from a Democrat or whether it is now truly what itsadly seems to be: the Trumpublican Party.

Enablers and fellow travelers have undermined democratic systems throughout history. Will we see it here?

The moment is quickly approaching where GOPers will have to choose who they are in their political and personal souls and whether the founding fathers had it right or were just oh, so 18th century.






















JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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