Trump Jr., the Fredo in a family of Fredos, went on Hannity last night to do some damage control after he blew up his father’s repeated insistence that there had been no collusion between the Russians and his campaign during the 2016 election. It didn’t go very well. “I didn’t know if there was any credibility, I didn’t know if there was anything behind it, I can’t vouch for the information,” Trump Jr. said of the email he received offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, courtesy of the Russian government. “Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly.”
After changing his story multiple times, Trump Jr. has landed on: “Is it a crime to be curious?” Well, it just might be! But also, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which Trump Jr. has put forth the most innocent-sounding explanation for why he was meeting with a Russian agent—only for it to be totally discredited by a subsequent report from The New York Times.
Donald Trump, the Donald Trump Jr. of politics, also tried his hand at defending his garbage son on Twitter:
The White House apparently drafted Trump Jr.’s statement that accompanied the release of the emails. Trump’s team seems to have been under the impression that scooping the Times would allow them to claim that they were being “open” and “transparent,” even though Trump Jr. had been caught lying about the nature of the meeting multiple times. This is an incredibly weak defense, and it’s contradicted by Trump’s other way of defending his son:
This has never been a very good counter-argument, but it’s especially bad when you remember that the story dominating the news is based on emails Trump’s son released himself, supposedly because transparency proves his innocence.
Still, the White House is probably more than happy for Trump Jr. to look like an incompetent idiot, because Trump Jr., a private citizen, is going to take the fall for this. It was Jared Kushner’s legal team that first found the emails as it attempted to clean up his lies and omissions, and Jared Kushner is an actual member of Trump’s White House, with a national security clearance. It is in their interest to make Trump Jr. look like the ringleader of this plot, albeit a hapless one, while Kushner was dragged unwittingly into Trump Jr.’s dumb orbit.
The emails make Trump Jr.—and by extension the effort to collude with Russia—look like sheer incompetence, and incompetence is much better than malevolence when you start talking about treason. Luckily for Kushner and Trump, no one is more incompetent than Donald Trump Jr.