President Trump thinks he can talk his way out of any situation or tight spot. He is not unique in thinking truth no obstacle. He seems to have thought he could help Donald Trump, Jr. talk his way out of the embarrassing New York Times story on the June 16 meeting of Trump Jr. et al. last year with Natalia V. et al. in search of incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
In today’s Washington Post “collusion” nonstory, four reporters make the case that President Trump himself dictated the misleading statement that Trump, Jr. gave to the New York Times in response to its story on the June 16 meeting. The statement could not withstand scrutiny and was quickly abandoned. It aggravated the embarrassment.
The Post does its best to hype the importance of the story: “The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.”
That is pretty lame. I would say that the story gives the Post the opportunity to review a few of the greatest hits in the “collusion” top 40.
The Post quotes Trump lawyer/spokesman Jay Sekulow disputing the story in a mealymouthed sort of way. The Post also quotes Trump Jr. lawyer Alan Futerfas to the effect that Trump Jr. is “fully prepared and absolutely prepared to make a fulsome statement” about the meeting. Usage note: “Fulsome” does not mean what he thinks it means.
Asked about Trump intervening to help with Trump Jr.’s statement, Futerfas said, “I have no evidence to support that theory.” He described the process of drafting a statement as “a communal situation that involved communications people and various lawyers.”
The Post turns to Peter Zeidenberg, the deputy special prosecutor who investigated the Bush administration’s leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. The Post asserts that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have to dig into the crafting of Trump Jr.’s statement. Why is that? “Prosecutors typically assume that any misleading statement is an effort to throw investigators off the track, Zeidenberg said.”
Sentient observers may note that deceit is the characteristic response of politicians to situations that embarrass them. See, e.g., Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton passim. We have not reached terminal stupidity, but we are getting there.
PAUL ADDS: I agree with Scott on all counts.
The statement President Trump drafted contains nothing false, nor can it reasonably be viewed as an attempt to “throw investigators off the track.” It was simply a ham-handed attempt at political spin.
If Robert Mueller were to “dig into the crafting of Trump Jr.’s statement,” he truly would be indulging in a witch hunt and would deserve to be fired.