Donald Trump is not noted for his sense of humor — he is witless in every sense of the word — but he got off an unintentionally hilarious line the other day when he praised his son Donald Trump Jr. for being “open, transparent and innocent.” In truth, getting Trump Jr. to come clean about what happened in his infamous June 9, 2016, meeting with Russian representatives — also attended by Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner — has been as hard as getting his father to pay his contractors.
For a year, all of the Trumps have denied any Russian contacts — vociferously and duplicitously. On July 24, 2016, only weeks after his meeting with the Russians, Trump Jr. looked into an ABC TV camera and feigned outrage that anyone would even dare suggest such a thing. “These lies and the perpetuating of that kind of nonsense to gain some political capital is just outrageous,” he said. In keeping with this cover story, Jared Kushner failed to note any meetings with Russians on his initial SF-86 form to receive a security clearance; even when he filed an amended form in May, there was reportedly no mention of the June 9 meeting. (It’s a felony to file an intentionally misleading or incomplete SF-86.)
When the New York Times found out about the meeting and started asking questions, Trump Jr. issued on July 8 a mendacious statement, approved personally by the president, which admitted that, yes, the meeting had occurred but claimed that it was about Russia’s adoption policy and that he had no idea beforehand whom he would be seeing. When the Times found out that Trump Jr. was, in fact, “promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer,” Trump Jr. grudgingly acknowledged that this was true but sought to minimize its significance by insisting that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, “had no meaningful information” to offer.
Only when the Times got its hands on the emails that preceded the…