Morning Briefing: The Bottom Drops Out Again for the Trump Administration Again
It’d been a while since there were any new breaks in the Russian probe case, so I started to get the feeling that it would get back-burnered by the media at least until Robert Mueller revealed the results of his investigation. But the last 24 hours have been insane, as Donald Trump Jr. has basically confessed to trying to collude with the Russians.
But let’s back up a moment. Last week, Trump met with Vladimir Putin. Putin completely owned Trump in that meeting and made a goddamn mockery of him and our country. He left us looking like fools. By the end of that meeting, Trump had once again minimized Russia’s role in meddling in our election; he had taken Putin’s word over the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia had not interfered with our election, and — most baffling of all — Trump agreed to a joint partnership with Russia on an “impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded,” as he tweeted on Sunday morning.
Even the Republicans were baffled (and yes, caveat: They’ll still vote for his agenda). Lindsay Graham said, “It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” and also added, that Trump was “hurting his presidency by not embracing the fact that Putin is the bad guy.” John McCain joked on Face the Nation, “I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he’s doing the hacking.” Marco Rubio tweeted, “Partnering with Putin on a “Cyber Security Unit” is akin to partnering with Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit.”
Clearly, the idea did not sit well, and I do love it when Trump gets mocked by his own party (and yes, caveat: They’ll still vote for his agenda).
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the NYTimes reported that Donald Trump, Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin two weeks before the Wikileaks began releasing emails from the DNC hack. He even brought along Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. This was big because, of course, it had not been revealed before, and it’s one of several meetings with Russians that Kushner didn’t disclose when he applies for security clearance, and the timing was big: Trump had basically wrapped up the nomination, but he faced a huge hurdle against Clinton.
At first, I didn’t think the story would go anywhere. Donald Trump Jr. did a little gaslighting on Saturday and suggested that the meeting was set up by Democratic operatives in order to frame the Trump campaign. That sounded like bullshit, but also bullshit that the Trump base would buy. Hannity would have a field day, I assumed, somehow blowing this back on Hillary Clinton. Preibus even called the whole thing a “nothing burger.”
Reince Priebus said less than 12 hours ago that Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer was "a big nothing burger" pic.twitter.com/TQshbe30sE— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 9, 2017
But then Donald Trump Jr. did something truly bizarre: He put a little mustard on that nothing burger. He confessed to the NYTimes that he tried to collude with the Russians:
I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.
Cue Donald Trump throwing his son under the bus:
Cue more stories about Donald Jr. being the Fredo of the family:
Cue George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer calling this treason:
This is treason. He must have known that the only way Russia would get such information was by spying.https://t.co/MSwr3DsbHs— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) July 9, 2017
Meanwhile, back to the joint cyber program with Russia. On that front, while no one from Trump’s national security team would speak for it, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury called it a “very significant accomplishment.”
Well, after Mnuchin celebrated a Trump “accomplishment” that the Republican establishment mocked, Trump promptly threw his Secretary of the Treasury under the bus and basically said, “JUST KIDDING.”
The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't-but a ceasefire can,& did!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
I like Jason Bailey’s assessment of that tweet:
I hesitate to make any assumptions but I'm beginning to question this Trump fellow's intelligence— Jason Bailey (@jasondashbailey) July 10, 2017
And what does Trump do when he gets cornered? He starts retweeting Fox and Friends and nonsense about the media, as he has been doing this morning. JAMES COMEY. OBAMA. HILLARY. LOUD NOISES:
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
That’s all you got this morning, Trump?
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