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Those Donald Trump Jr. emails probably aren’t as big a deal as some people are suggesting

Donald Trump Jr.
REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Donald Trump Jr. in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York City.

I feel like a sucker or a sap or whatever the kids are calling it these days. A tool?

I believe Donald Trump (senior) lies constantly and has no respect for factual accuracy that gets in the way whatever he is selling, even if he is selling it to himself, but especially if he is selling it for more than it is worth, which he almost always is. That approach to honesty and accuracy seems to be required of most of those who work for him.

I’m pretty much the opposite, by nature and by professional training. I can’t even bring myself to be knowingly “unfair” to Mr. Trump on a matter of fact. I have no respect for him and am not interested in feigning any. But I’m not ready to give up on facticity nor fairness, nor even some minimum level of civility, as a journalist nor as a citizen.

So, since I haven’t mentioned it yet, here’s where I am on the Donald-Jr.-colluded-with-the-Russians thing. It might turn into something Trump-presidency-threatening, but I’m not ready to get ahead of the evidence, and I have a hunch it might actually turn out to be a nothing-burger.

Donald Jr. colluded. And there were Russians involved. He was told in advance that a Russian woman attorney wanted to meet, to give him dirt on Hillary Clinton that would help his father defeat her, and that this was part of the larger effort by the Russian government to help him win the election. The actual smoking-gun quote, in an email from the guy who offered to set up the meeting (and you’ve surely read this several times by now) was that the information that would be given by the Russian-government-connected woman at the meeting: “is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

And Trump Jr. said yes, he would attend such a meeting. In fact, he said “I love it.” (His father, the current incumbent president, provided his usual moral clarity when told about this, saying: “Many people would have had that meeting.

Maybe they would, but should they?

That’s as good as this story gets, so far. But, to me, even that would qualify as “collusion,” which the online dictionary defines as: “a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes; conspiracy.”

By agreeing to the meeting, Donald Jr. colluded with a woman for treacherous purposes, namely to participate in a Russian government scheme (conspiracy) to influence the U.S. election. He was told that was what the meeting was for, and he agreed to have the meeting. In his big Sean Hannity interview Tuesday night, he indicated that he was unaware there was anything inappropriate about having such a meeting with such a person for such a purpose, but he understands it better now.

I’m not sure we have the evidence yet to venture an opinion on the legality question. By agreeing to the meeting and attending it, Trump Jr. colluded in the dictionary sense, but just the emails that he released are hardly enough to convict him (or his brother-in-law, or then-Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort) of colluding in the legal sense. A lot of smart lawyers are weighing in on that and many of them say that to cross the line into clear criminality, the colluders would have had to agree to commit to illegal conspiratorial acts at the meeting and then carry them out.

Did they? Quite possibly, but no evidence of that has entered the public domain, and I guess I’m skeptical. We have Trump Junior’s account (the version I have is based on the interview he gave to Sean Hannity on Tuesday night).

According to Trump Jr., the Russian woman had nothing interesting to offer, nothing that would live up to the pre-meeting promise of helping Trump Sr. win the election, and that this became immediately obvious. Manafort was texting on his phone all through the meeting. Kushner left early. It was a “nothing burger.”

Is Trump Jr.’s account accurate? We have no proof either way, although it seems likely that others who were at the meeting will back him up. Was it a crime even to agree to the meeting? Or was it perhaps a technical crime not to have disclosed the meeting? Or did Kushner commit a crime when he filled out the paperwork for his current White House advisor role, and didn’t list the meeting even though he was required disclose all recent contacts with foreigners? Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker, a very smart lawyer-journalist, raises all those possibilities in this piece.

I have no position on the technical-legal questions, although these might be important if law enforcement was trying to get leverage on lower level officials to get them to rat out higher level officials. (Kushner, by the way, has since amended his form to acknowledge the undisclosed foreigner meeting.)

What I (and I suspect most of us) really care about is whether we now have a president who knowingly and willingly colluded with representatives of a hostile foreign power to subvert a presidential election. That would be a big deal. And I am highly suspicious that it happened in this instance. I don’t expect the Trump Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is going to turn out to be the smoking gun.

I’m not skilled in the craft of Kremlinology, but others who are so-schooled are skeptical. Check out this piece by Leonid Bershisky, a Russian businessman turned Berlin-based journalist who writes a regular column for Bloomberg View, which is where this one, headlined “Trump’s low level Russian connection,” was published. He says that, among other things, the shorthand “Kremlin-linked” for Veselnitskaya exaggerates what is known about her standing. “Kremlin-linked” seems designed to get us thinking big, thinking Putin.

According to Bershisky, Veselnitskaya is known in Russia for her efforts to get the U.S. to repeal the so-called Magnitsky Act, which is what Trump, Jr. claims she tried to do when she met with him. Bershisky says Veselnitskaya is not so much Kremlin-connected as connected with the regional government that includes Moscow.

Okay, now I’m starting to bore and confuse even myself. I’m skeptical that Veselnitskaya will turn out to be the Mata Hari figure for which some are hoping. Since I’ve gone on so long, and since I do believe in fairness and balance, I’ll close by linking to this Washington Post piece, in which several legal scholars smarter than me suggest that what’s already known, basically in Trump Jr.’s smoking gun email, demonstrates a criminal act.

“It's a shocking admission of a criminal conspiracy,” said Jens David Ohlin, associate dean of Cornell Law School, in a statement shared with The Post. "The conversation will now turn to whether President Trump was personally involved or not. But the question of the campaign's involvement appears settled now. The answer is yes."

I don’t know Robert Mueller. He seems to have a sterling reputation. My big idea is to let that guy do his job. He’ll have the power to compel testimony under oath and follow the clues where they lead. Then we’ll see what we have.

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Comments (37)

Drip. drip, drip...The tacit

Drip. drip, drip...

The tacit understanding of all involved in the email chain that the Russian government was acting in support of the election of Trump is the biggest take-away from this drip.

Shortly after that meeting, Trump Jr., vehemently derided allegations of Russian backing of Trump.

The new Mayberry Machiavelli squad never disappoints.

What Did the President Know, and When Did he Stop Knowing it?

Nicholas Kristof remembered an interesting fact in his column today: the day after Donald Jr. received the e-mail about the meeting about the meeting, his father promised to give “a major speech” in which “we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.” As with all of Trump's promises, nothing came of it, but the timing and the specifics of the promise are telling.

Make your mind up

At the end, you suggest having Robert Mueller decide how serious what Trump Junior did. In the body of the article you call it a probable nothing burger, but admit how confused you are. What do you believe? The two viewpoints contradict each other.

Context is everything

What is in isolation a 'nothingburger' may, in the broader context that Mueller will be investigating, be one of the pieces in the collusion jigsaw puzzle.

Lies, them damn lies

I tend to agree that the legal case probably isn't there yet, but god knows the ethical one is. Just the fact that they were there to get help on their campaign from a hostile foreign govenment is a damning revelation. But then, the Trumpsters have shown since they took office that don't really care about ethical constraints. I think the real quicksand for this crew is when they get questioned under oath by the FBI. They're so used to lying for convenience that I could see some of them slipping up and doing in during interview, and that, my friends is a felony...,

With all due respect, Eric

I think you have blown this one.

For example:

Legal experts say Donald Trump Jr has just confessed to a federal crime
link: https://goo.gl/6X5Cpq

“The emails are simply put damning as a legal matter,” explains Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel and current editor of the legal site Just Security. “The text of the emails provide very clear evidence of participation in a scheme to involve the Russian government in federal election interference, in a form that is prohibited by federal criminal law.”

Of course there is more, much more, where that came from.

A few more drips gathering..

(quote)

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told McClatchy he wants to know whether Russia’s “fake or damaging news stories” were “coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure … with the (Trump) campaign.”

By Election Day, an automated Kremlin cyberattack of unprecedented scale and sophistication had delivered critical and phony news about the Democratic presidential nominee to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of millions of voters. Some investigators suspect the Russians targeted voters in swing states, even in key precincts.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article160803619.html#storylink(=cpy

(end quote)

Probably?

They aren't! They are fodder for a hysteria driven left wing political party and their in sync liberal media (ok that is only 90% of the media) and the entire entertainment business (ok only 99% of the E business. Those same people turned the other way when it came to the Obama and Clinton lies and conspiracies and complained of obstruction by the other party.

Tim..

Trump Jr. was told in advance that the meeting would provide 'dirt' on Hillary's campaign and he willingly, "lovingly' attended the meeting. What do you not understand about that ? and by the way, Obama and Clinton are out of the picture...just as is Reagan, Bill C., Bush II, et. al. We are talking about the present and future of our Country.

Please

Tell me spefically where that is illegal, facts and reason onlu.

https://www.vox.com/world/201

"Come on, that is pathetic"

"Charles Krauthammer, editor to the conservative Weekly Standard and Fox News panelist, appeared Tuesday on [FOX's] 'The Story' with Martha MacCallum and blasted President Donald Trump’s namesake child . . .

" 'If you get a call to go to a certain place in the middle of the night to pick up stolen goods, and it turns out stolen goods don’t show up but the cops show up, I think you’re going to have a weak story saying, "well, I got swindled here," ' Krauthammer explained.

" 'It’s a hell of a defense to say your collusion wasn’t competent and it didn’t work out.'

“ 'Come on, that is pathetic,' Krauthammer said of those making excuses for Trump, Jr."

www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/fox-news-charles-krauthammer-torches-...

"Most important, Krauthammer pointed out, there is evidence now that the Trumpites have been lying.

" 'Here’s the deal,' Krauthammer said. 'They denied they did this… They were saying for six months, "We didn’t do it. There is no evidence that we did it. How could you ever imagine that we did it?" '

"Krauthammer—like a lot of conservatives and right-wingers—seemed chagrined over the dishonesty of the Trump gang after having defended them for months by saying there was no proof of collusion with Russian dirty tricks.

" 'Up until today, there was no there there,' Krauthammer said. 'Well, now there is a there.' "

http://observer.com/2017/07/donald-trump-jr-sean-hannity-interview/

Here's hoping Charles Krauthammer and FOX News fits your definition of non-liberal.

And even though this article is on what you would call a Totally Liberal news web site, no doubt, you might find this Krauthammer-authored piece on the topic (just published an hour ago) interesting:

"The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there's a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. with the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a 'Russian government attorney' possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, the Kremlin is willing to share a trove of incriminating documents from the [Russian] Prosecutor General.

"Donald Jr. emails back. 'I love it.' Fatal words . . .

"I'll leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don't need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense -- collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election -- is now officially dead."

www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bungled-collusion-is-still-collusion/201...

Hysteria Drive Leftwing Political Party?

Liberal Media? Seriously, are you still living in the 60's? Our media is Center Right at best. Your bizarre take on reality aside, why do you suppose all of these folks chose to lie about this meeting, Jared lied on his clearance application, he had to amend it twice, Manafort as well, lied about meetings with Russians on his application as well, had to amend it, the 39 year old "kid" Jr. lied about it, saying it never happened, but then it did and now we find out that a "former" Russian intelligence officer was present after Trump Jr. told Sean Hannity all had been revealed. It seems to me its not the left whose hysterical, apparently these folks are so wound up that can't tell the truth about the tiniest of things. The whole damn bunch of the lie, then lie about the lie and then lie a little more. Its just weird how they all do the same thing.

As for Bill and Hill, I seem to remember years of inestigations and millions of dollars spent by Ken Starr to produce some odd pornograhic report on Bill and Monica. And how many hearing or committees did you Republican pals have on Benghazi? And what did the find? NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING. I'd love to see your pal Donald sit for 11 hours of questioning in front of a congressional commitee.

No Liberal media, no lies by Bill and Hill that weren't investigated and debunked. Put this crew up to that kind of scrutiny and lets see how that ends.

did you read that the russian lawyer got results?

DOJ Settled Massive Russian Fraud Case Involving Lawyer Who Met With Trump Jr.
Lawmakers are concerned Justice's abrupt settlement 'may be connected' to Russian overtures to Trump campaign.
The forfeiture case was heralded at the time as “a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme arising from a notorious foreign fraud,” Bharara said. “As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate.”

But Instead of proceeding with the trial as scheduled, the Trump Justice Department settled the case two days before it was due to begin.
http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/12/doj-settled-massive-russian-fraud-ca...

Deal-making

Indeed. Shortly after Preet Bharara resigned under pressure. C'mon folks. This is not just about Russians trying to interfere "as usual." It's about what happened on the other side of the table and The Art of the Deal.

How accustomed we've become.

I too trust Mueller to uncover any criminal acts.

But we've become so inured to bad behavior by Trump et al that we no longer consider ethics or morality as yardsticks.

Trump Jr. responded enthusiastically to an offer to meet “Russian government attorney” who would give him “information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” It doesn't matter whether she in fact was a Russian government attorney - Trump Jr. was told she was and agreed to meet her. It doesn't matter whether she in fact had incriminating information - Trump Jr. was told she did and agreed to meet her.

He was willing to get involved with what he was told was a representative of a foreign power - an adversary of the US - to further his father's election prospects.

It is important to stay on point, as you have done here

Thanks for distilling this matter down to its essence. All that matters is what Junior's understandings and expectations were when entering the meeting room, not whether those expectations were fulfilled or even valid.

Please be "fair and balanced!"

I agree that this latest news is a" nothing burger." WOW - we agree (so far)!

I admit that I often wondered how Mr. Black would "chime in" on this latest Trump revelation.

However - I do not remember Mr. Black having much scrutiny or really anything to say about "equally troubling" Bill and Hilary shenanigans along with Obama corruptions. (email cover-up, foundation conflicts of interest, IRS fiasco, lying about Obamacare, etc. and etc.)

I appreciate the attempt to be "fair and balance" about this latest Trump fiasco - but "Fair and balanced" needs to apply to both sides of the isle.

To blatantly ignore other "nothing burgers (?)" on Dems side of the isle is not really being "fair and balanced. Is it?

Amen bro

Truth n facts come out, thank you

Once Again

Any alleged misdoings of any former President are of historical interest only. I know conservatives like to dredge them up as a way of assuaging their hurt feelings, but they have absolutely nothing to do with our current government.

The only reason I can see for this continued deflection is that it is a tacit admission that you have no defense for Trump or his minions. Conservatives voted for him because he is an ill-mannered boor who said a lot of insulting things about Senator Clinton and President Obama. Now, you have to realize that he really is a liar and a fraud. There is no plausible way of denying that he is the most ethically challenged President since Richard Nixon. Your votes gave us a dishonest incompetent as chief executive, and the only defense you have for him is to snivel about something someone else did. It has nothing to do with "fairness" or "balance." It's about rationalization.

For what it's worth

I think Eric's skepticism about a legal case against Trump Jr. is largely justified at this point, but that could change, depending upon the outcome of Mr. Mueller's investigation. What seems to me to be incontrovertible, no matter what Tim Smith might think, is Harris Goldstein's last sentence. Whether that is deemed criminal behavior or not, it's absolutely and completely morally bankrupt. Lindsey Graham is not my favorite Washington politician, but — to paraphrase — even he has said that "When a foreign government asks if you'd like their help with your compaign, you first response has to be 'No.'"

And kudos to Neal Rovick for my new favorite term: "Mayberry Machiavelli squad."

Note:

Impeachment does not require the commission of illegal acts.

Impeachment

Oh really????

Debateable

There is no clear consensus on what the constitutional phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" means. Back in 1974, the House Judiciary concluded that the phrase was not necessarily limited to criminal offenses (a memo resurrected with no small glee by Republicans in '98, because one of the authors of the memo was Hillary Rodham).

Justice Story, the great constitutional commentator (back in 1833), seems to have come down on that side:

"The offences, to which the power of impeachment has been, and is ordinarily applied, as a remedy, are of a political character. Not but that crimes of a strictly legal character fall within the scope of the power, (for, as we shall presently see, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanours are expressly within it;) but that it has a more enlarged operation, and reaches, what are aptly termed, political offences, growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interests, in the discharge of the duties of political office. These are so various in their character, and so indefinable in their actual involutions, that it is almost impossible to provide systematically for them by positive law."

Trump supporters are thrilled

Trump supporters are thrilled at how the media are getting all tangled up in legalese that no one understands, and those Trumpites encourage that. What they don't want us to see is the forest for all those trees:

Russia interfered with our 2016 elections, in an unprecedented manner. Not just hacking computers and servers, but by having little armies of trolls spread fake information about Hillary Clinton throughout American cyberspace, aided by outlets like Breitbart. They timed those disseminations, and may have been helped by Jared Kushner's digital programs at the Trump campaign.

That's what everybody doesn't want to face: that Russia effectively manipulated our 2016 presidential elections.

We must admit, too, that the June 2016 meeting with the Russian informant didn't need to have some positive outcome in terms of information exchange: Donald Jr. and his Trump campaign pals fell into "compromat" and were thus open to Russian blackmail or coercion JUST FOR MEETING. The whole point: would the Trump team take any meeting on the basis that they'd get Russian government dirt on Hillary ? Yep, they did. One for Russia.

You'd have to be really naive or suffer from tunnel vision not to see that, and at least Jared Kushner is not naive when it comes to dealing with big-money russians:

Jared has had many dealings with Russians who launder their dirty millions and billions in NY real estate; some have even gotten U.S. citizenship through his real estate deals, where for as little as $500,000 investment in one of his projects a Russian can purchase a clear route to U.S. citizenship (Jared has gotten them discounts; the real price is $1 million). The NY Times had a series on that a few months ago. Mueller's special team is full of money-laundering experts.

So, don't let the Trump team confuse the issue: the point is that our Russian adversary intervened in our elections, and it's looking clearer every day that Trump team help smoothed the way. Wow. That's a betrayal of all of us, no matter what the legalese.

conspiracy doesn't require follow through

My only issue with Eric's assessment is that I've seen many lawyers point out that conspiracy doesn't require actual criminal follow through. For instance you'll frequently see a charge of conspiracy combined with the actual crime- i.e.: Treason AND conspiracy to commit treason. Frequently in sting operations the would-be conspirator is lured into consummating the crime, i.e. paying the money, delivering the drugs, etc. But that's not a condition of the conspiracy charge, it's a tactic prosecutors and police use so they can bring the strongest criminal charges upon arrest. The penalty for robbing a bank is much greater than the penalty for conspiring to rob a bank.

Of course none of this means Trump will be charged.

I think the big story here may end up being Kushner's role. This is yet another meeting with Russians that he failed to disclose, and this is obviously the most serious thus far. Previously he's claimed that he'd simply forgotten about this or that meeting, but that claim simply isn't credible in this case. Kushner is actually a White House staff and government employee, he could lose his security clearance. You can't keep saying you never met any Russians then keep revising your statements every time someone uncovers another meeting, at some point you lose your credibility, and you're clearance. If there's any evidence out there that Kushner discussed this meeting with others, it raises the possibility that he's actually lying. Lying in intelligence forms is actually considered perjury. Again, it may be the cover-up that eventually gets these guys, not the lies themselves. They WILL be testifying under oath at some point, in multiple investigations. If they perjure themselves at that point, or again, it could end up being a very big deal indeed.

The meeting was just a glimpse of a breaching whale.

Is there proof of a crime in the meeting and the preparation for it? Perhaps not yet, though Mr. Black appears to forget that conspiracy to commit a crime is a crime, and the email appears to present the overt act in black and white.

To extend Ms. Sullivan’s above comment, the issue though is this. The history of Mr. Trump (& his son-in-law) is one of intimacy with the Russian kleptocratic milieu: laundering its money through his properties, accepting its loans to stave off his defaults and resurrect himself from his bankruptcies, entwining himself with it in Moscow development ventures, even if largely fruitless, and in the world of compromising diversions and entertainments that goes with that. There’s a reason he would not and will not show his finances, and it surely is this.

To be a successful Russian kleptocrat, one must be a Putin kleptocrat. Ask Boris Berezovsky (if you have a Ouija board handy). If you are tied to the Russian kleptocracy, you are tied to Putin. As a result, Putin surely holds a thousand points of leverage over Trump. And Trump only has one motivator: self-interest. Not only would he sacrifice national interest for his own, he does not know what national interest is: in his narcissism, he is not capable of understanding the term. This combination of elements means that there is almost no one in the United States more subject to manipulation by the Russian government to undermine U.S. interest than Trump. Though Trump as President is an absurdity at any time, at a time of Russia’s many-tentacled engagement to damage U.S. and Western civic society and turn it to authoritarianism, this absurdity becomes, as well, profound danger, particularly where his closest advisors are in it specifically for the authoritarianism.

Ms. Veselnitskaya’s coffee klatsch with the Trump team offered at least three things to Putin and the Russian kleptocracy: (a) the opportunity to impress on Trump that the repeal of the Magnitsky Act sure would be appreciated; (b) the occasion to secure another nice piece of Kompromat (in the form of the meeting itself); and (c) the ability to advance Trump’s candidacy via the several forms of corrupt electoral assistance. The meeting is not the flagrante delicto itself, it is merely a manifestation like the momentary breaching of a whale. The context essentially proves the crime that almost assuredly is, and will be, an ongoing one.

Who Cares????

Outside of the Washington Political crowd and the media who cares about the Russia story? It's pretty obvious to everyone, Trump supporters included, that Russians, either private individuals or the government, were involved in trying to influence the election. Is this a surprise? Guess what; the US government does the same thing on a regular basis all over the world, either openly or covertly thru the CIA.

In the end, Hillary lost because she was a lousy candidate. If the leaked e-mails did anything, it just proved that she and the democratic party were completely incompetent in running a secure IT system, which is pretty damning for someone who claimed to be the most qualified person to run the country.

Right now, everyone I know, on both sides of the political spectrum, are totally fed up with this story. What we want is Washington to focus on fixing the many problems that we currently face, starting with the melt down of our health care system. This Russia hysteria is just distracting everyone from doing their jobs. It's time to move on. If you didn't like the outcome of the last election, you'll have another chance in 3 years.

Well...

I agree that in the end Russian intrigue didn't decide the election, but the fact that Trump and his campaign sought cooperation form Russian agents is a serious matter for several obvious reasons.

Because you brought it up,

Because you brought it up, Trump's victory was due to a total of about 80,000 votes in MI, PA, and WI that gave him the electoral college win. Clinton had almost 3 million more votes than Trump.

Does that make Clinton a lousy candidate?

Or does it mean that the Trump GOTV was extremely strategic and targeted specific states and districts and even drilled down to individuals voters for targeted messages ?

And what if that effort was coordinated with Russian efforts ?

Shoulder shrug ?

Since you ask

Yes, Clinton was a lousy candidate. Trump was by no means in any conceivable reality an unbeatable candidate, and as you point out he lost the popular vote. Any "good" opponent would have laid Trump to waste, and many of us warned the Democrats that Clinton was NOT that opponent. When we pointed to Clinton's tendency to become embroiled in controversies real or imagined Democrats said: "don't worry, look at her Benghazi testimony!" Clinton had no message, no popular agenda beyond simply being "Hillary" in the White House, and of course anyone who cared to know, knew that she had the lowest favorability and trustworthiness ratings on the field. Even her supporters had been reduced to promising us that she'd be a better president than she was a candidate by the time we go the Democratic Convention.

She lost the "swing" states because she assumed had a "blue wall" that turned out to be non-existent. Good candidates don't make mistakes like that. Trump didn't win because he's some kind of unstoppable force of nature, or political genius. Trump won because he ran in the midst of a perfect storm of self indulgence, ineptitude, and incompetence. It was clear to anyone that was paying attention that the American electorate in 2016 was demanding populist candidates and was rejecting decades of elitist rule. Despite that obvious trend Democrats put one of the most elitist candidates in history on the ballot. Don't give Trump too much credit, he lost a race to the bottom.

Call Me Old Fashioned . . .

I don't think it's appropriate for foreign powers to be meddling in our elections. It doesn't matter if the foreign power is Russia, England, or Burundi--it shouldn't happen.

Did it have an effect on the outcome of the election? Maybe, but that isn't the important thing. I've heard from one major party in this country that the integrity of our elections is of paramount urgency; in fact, it's of such great urgency that we will deny suffrage in the interests of protecting it. "This Russia hysteria" is bigger than that, by orders of magnitude. It's about a very real threat. If the hysteria implicates the President, then our interest in the integrity of our government should lead us to welcome an investigation.

"Right now, everyone I know, on both sides of the political spectrum, are totally fed up with this story." You don't get out much, do you?

"Most political people would have...

taken that meeting...." only points out how insulated and isolate this group is. I guess if you live in the world of Stone and Cohen and begin with Cohn the joys of ice cream goes out of you life.

Actually no, most people wouldn't

We know that Al Gore had a similar opportunity in 2000 and he turned it over to the FBI rather than take the meeting.

The emails

It's not so much the recent email flap...it's more about the Trump campaign, and then the Trump administration, railing for the past year about "no contact with anything Russian"...how many times does this have to be proven to be a lie?

Blackmail?

Up until now I have been wondering what the concerns about blackmail entailed. It seems we haven't heard it all. I am now guessing that this email has been on the Justice Dept radar for a very long time and helped launch the concern. The part about the meeting being related to the Russian Government's desire to support Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton finally presents something concrete that seems to warrant the "blackmail" concern."This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Why on earth would someone put that into a introductory email?? It was totally unnecessary and indicates it was put there deliberately to give a paper trail to those who might want to use it against the Trump campaign. If Russia wanted to plant something to use against Donald they did so in this email.

Indeed

It should be obvious by now that Trump wanted the Presidency, not to go forward making the world a better place, but simply to make the country service his agenda, making money through and with the aid of Putin and the Oligarch Russians. That his supporters don't recognize this is either because they aren't paying attention, are embarrassed to admit it, or are for their own reasons willing go along with it. At any rate Trump 'will not' make America great again for the vast majority of the American people. We 'really do' need to see his tax return.