President Donald Trump must resign.
The emails released on Tuesday by Donald Trump Jr. make it absolutely clear that Trump’s son, son-in-law (and now top White House aide), and campaign manager attended a meeting under the express understanding (whether right or wrong) that it involved a lawyer supposedly representing the Kremlin’s interest in swaying the American election.
Read that again. The originally stated goal of the meeting was to help the Kremlin help the Trump campaign.
This is not a matter of whether he personally did or did not commit a punishable crime. This is a matter of a president being hopelessly compromised because of his own longstanding and weird advocacy of Russian interests, in combination with this attempt at campaign collusion with the Putin gang – and in combination with Trump firing an FBI director specifically (in Trump’s own words) because Trump was upset with the director’s conduct in the Russia probe.
This is a president whose conduct vis-a-vis the single most dangerous nation (in terms of nuclear weapons capability plus hostility toward American interests around the globe) will now be forever under a cloud. The American people absolutely cannot trust Trump’s objectivity about Russian intentions and Russian actions.
This is an utterly untenable situation. For the good of the country, Trump must lance the boil, and resign.
Let us review the emails released this morning by Donald Trump Jr.
From Rob Goldstone:
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump….
Reply from Trump Jr.:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that…. If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week…?
Later in the chain…[snippets]:
Let me track him down in Moscow….a meeting with the Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow….
It doesn’t matter what actions did or did not result from the meeting. Trump Jr. accepted the meeting under the impression that this was a “Russian government attorney” working as part of the “Russian government’s” attempt to help his father’s campaign. This was precisely at a time when the Trump campaign already had been coming under public attack for the elder Trump’s repeated defenses of Vladimir Putin and when rumors already were flying all over the place about “Russia-Trump connections.”
And this is from a family which for 30 years had sought business in Russia and which at least since 2008 had, according to Trump Jr., been in a situation in which “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” And that’s just a sampling of the strange and longstanding Trump dealings with shady Russian interests.
To repeat: The entire Trump camp is hopelessly compromised vis-a-vis Russia, at the very least in terms of the ability to engender public trust. This is bad for the country.
Think out the scenarios. Imagine Russia openly invading more parts of Ukraine. How will Trump react? If he does nothing, not just the American public but the whole world will wonder if his refusal to make a strong response has anything to do with his “ties to Russia.” But if he reacts with a strong military response – perhaps risking a wider war – how much of the response will be seen as stemming from a desire on his part not to “look weak” against Russia, just to try to dispel the doubts? Knowing Trump’s personality, and obsession with an image of toughness, it is indeed entirely possible that this ongoing “Russia scandal” might lead him to an emotional, histrionic over-reaction.
Such an overreaction certainly would be within Trump’s usual personality traits and flaws.
Russia is a hostile power. It strongly supports and subsidizes Iran’s terrorism-exporting regime. It strongly supports the government of Syria that uses chemical weapons against its own people. It aggressively undermines the stability of a perilous region by subverting the governments, and sometimes taking the land, of the nations of Ukraine, Georgia, Transnistria, and Moldova, among others. As a CNN report last November very concisely described it:
With sanctions and “information war,” meddling in elections and referendums in the West, and disregarding or walking away from treaties and agreements, [the] economic, intelligence, propaganda and cyber confrontation by Russian definitions are already well established. According to the general in charge of Russia’s NATO-facing Western Military District, Russia’s new definition of war “is never declared, and never ends.”
Yet again and again, Trump and his family and his aides are found to be defending Russia, advocating the positions of Russia, meeting with Russians under suspicious circumstances – and, we now see, deliberately accepting a meeting that was their attempt to collude with Russia.
This is despicable, outrageous, and inexcusable. It casts a shadow not just on Trump and his presidency, but on the entire American conduct of foreign affairs, and on America’s international standing.
No president is so indispensable. And no president should make his great nation be so roiled by such a serious and damaging ongoing investigation, to the detriment of the ability to handle myriads of pressing problems.
Trump must resign. Trump must resign. Trump must resign.
Quin Hillyer is a 40-year conservative columnist and activist and a White House-appointed veteran of the Reagan Administration.