How Trump “Directed” Don Jr’s June 9 “No Follow-Up” False Statement to Congress

In the New Republic, I have a piece expanding on what I laid out in my first post on last week’s BuzzFeed story. It should not have been a big deal that BuzzFeed claimed Trump had “directed” Michael Cohen to lie, because we already had plenty of evidence that Trump had induced his top aides to lie. In it, I note an even more clear cut example of Trump scripting his aides’ lies with the June 9 meeting.

Then last June, the Times published a January 2018 letter in which Trump’s lawyers admitted to Mueller’s office that “the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.” The letter tied that statement directly to Don Jr.’s testimony to Congress about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016, in which Don Jr. sought to procure damaging information about Hillary Clinton from Russian agents. “His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.” Trump’s statement to the Times claimed there had been “no follow-up” after the June 9 meeting, and Don Jr.’s testimony to Congress sustained that claim. But the public record shows there was follow-up after the election.

And I suggest, later in the piece, that what we know happened with the June 9 meeting is probably what happened with Cohen’s Trump Tower story.

Mueller has hinted that Trump’s other subordinates were involved in just one of these lies: Cohen’s. In a filing describing how Cohen explained “the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries,” Cohen suggested he coordinated with “White House-based staff and legal counsel to Trump.”

That’s what the public record shows happened with Cohen’s statements about the Trump Tower meeting, in which he falsely claimed there was no “follow-up.”

As I suggested, how that happened is already in the public record, in documents released by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As early as June 3, 2017, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten called Rob Goldstone to find out details about the June 9, 2016 meeting, including who the Russian lawyer who attended was. On June 26, Garten contacted Goldstone again to find out about and get contact information for Ike Kaveladze. In a call with Goldstone the next day, Garten expressed “concern” because the June 9 meeting “links Don Jr. to officials from Russia, which he has already denied meeting.”

On July 8, the White House put out a Trump (and Putin) statement claiming the meeting was only about adoptions, and therefore didn’t include any topic that was a campaign  issue. As part of that statement, Trump claimed that “there was no follow-up.”

It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up. I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand. [my emphasis]

On July 9, Don Jr put out his own statement, admitting that Goldstone had also offered dirt and that Magnitsky sanctions were discussed, but repeating that “no follow-up” line (as well as telling some other lies).

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. [my emphasis]

That’s when Goldstone — who had been on a cruise in Europe and so out of the loop — got angry that, after having asked for advance warning a week earlier, was now fielding calls from the press without first knowing what Trump had put out.

I had requested last week of you guys to see what was being put out, so I could be able to prepare our own statement but never received anything from you or your colleague. Can I please at least now see the statement you guys put out.

Goldstone wanted that statement, he explained to SJC, so he could match what Trump put out. “I just felt it would be useful if I knew what they had put out, the style, the type.” He wasn’t so much looking to coordinate; he was just trying to message effectively. “This — this  was area was really alien to me. I’m a music publicist. We talk about ego and nonsense. I’m not used to this kind of structured world.”

Then, on July 10, both Alan Futerfas and Alan Garten sent Goldstone a statement they wanted him to put out under his own name. It included the claim that there had been no follow-up.

As the person who arranged the meeting, I can definitely state that the statements I have read by Donald Trump Jr. are 100 percent accurate. The meeting was a complete waste of time, and Don was never told Ms. Veselnitskaya’s name prior to the meeting. Ms. Veselnitskaya mostly talked about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoption laws, and the meeting lasted 20 to 30 minutes at most. There was never any follow-up and nothing ever came of the meeting. [my emphasis]

Goldstone told SJC he thought the “ludicrous” because it sounded nothing like him, and so kept trying to put out his own statement.

But (as SJC made clear in questions about the statement) the two Trump Organization Alans, who had been chasing down what happened at this meeting for over a month by the time they drafted a statement for Goldstone, had to have known that the statement they wanted Goldstone to adopt was partly incorrect (in spite of their exhortations that any statement be accurate). That’s because they would already have reviewed an email Goldstone sent to Rhonna Graff the previous fall.

On November 28, after ten days of efforts to set up another meeting for Veselnitskaya after the election and on directions that almost certainly had to have come from Don Jr, Goldstone sent Veselnitskaya’s latest statement on sanctions to Trump’s Assistant, Rhona Graff. On July 15, 2017, after Trump and Don Jr had already issued statements claiming there had been no follow-up to the meeting — and after Trump’s lawyers tried to get Goldstone to say that publicly, too — Graff forwarded Goldstone’s email back to show that there had, in fact, been follow-up.

Nevertheless, almost two months after Graff identified this proof of follow-up (there are also some calls between Don Jr and Goldstone that are in some ways even more damning, though Goldstone disclaims them), Don Jr continued to hew to the family line that there had not been follow-up.

Even in response to a direct question about it, Don Jr insisted there had been no follow-up,

Q. There was, in your view, no follow-up at all from this meeting?

A . Correct.

So Trump dictated a statement (and the lawyers tried to massage it even while leaving a number of lies in the statement), his son repeated it, his lawyers tried to get Goldstone to repeat it, even while they had clear documentary evidence it was not true.

And then Don Jr repeated that lie — there was no follow-up at all from this meeting — in September 2017, sustaining the lie his father first told, only this time to Congress, where it counts as a criminal false statement.

Last week, people on both sides of the aisle treated the BuzzFeed story as the first evidence that Trump had suborned false statements. It’s not. We’ve seen how he does so in very detailed form already.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

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54 replies
  1. BobCon says:

    So then one question becomes why does no other outlet say this? Is it incompetence, or willing blindness?

    They could easily report it but toss in some alternate explanations at the end for the sake of Gray Lady-style balance — that’s how the NY Times handled the ridiculous Rod Rosenstein breakdown story. Why not?

    • Callender says:

      The EoH’s answer to your question has merit.  But you’ll never go broke betting on incompetence and willing blindness.  It

      As far as that goes, willing blindness IS incompetence, so let’s shorten the list.  Fun fact:  If you look up either “incompetence” or”willing blindness” in the dictionary, both cite  “Miller, Judith” as an example.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    News outlets seem to avoid getting out in front of the messages their sources want out.  That’s a problem with access “journalism”.

    Interpreting the news – rather, the public record – as EW has done is not what the MSM considers news.  To them, it is “analysis,” which they label as “opinion,” because of course, people of good faith could interpret it differently.

    The MSM avoids publishing opinions that get out in front of the messages their sources want out.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We discussed at the time the June 9th meeting story broke that successful presidential candidates and their top aides are very busy people.  The nomination and election are on the line.  More immediately, they need to know what votes they have, from where.  Of most importance is how much money do they have, where is more coming from, and how much is it and what will it cost to get it.

    These driven ambitious people do not take meetings with foreigners two months before the nominating convention and several months before the election without knowing precisely who will be there, why it is necessary to take the meeting, what the topic is, what’s in it for them, and how much will it cost to get it.

    Short of an emergency meeting about a family kidnapping, meetings where the top dog does not know why it is happening and what he can get out of it do not happen.  Not at all.  And not with foreigners, from whom taking most kinds of assistance would be illegal.

    Whatever the truth is, it is not in the stories Trump and his family have put out about it.

    • Peterr says:

      I agree, and would add one more thing.

      The time of the candidate and the candidate’s top aides (campaign chair, spouse, adult kids, other major surrogates) is intensely valuable. It is rare that all these folks are in the same room at the same time, simply because they need to spread out to cover more territory/news outlets/donors/etc. Most meetings with non-campaign folks that require a campaign presence involve one of these folks, generally along with a couple of lower level staffers.

      But here you’ve got three of them — the son, son-in-law, and campaign chair — all in the same meeting.

      This does not happen on a regular basis (“Hey, there’s a meeting coming up . . . who wants to come?”). This does not happen by accident. This does not happen without some conversation among the top staff that says “this meeting is important enough that more than just one of us needs to be there.”

      The son was contacted by the Russians with the offer of dirt on Hillary, so he’s got to be there. The son-in-law has the trust of the candidate (moreso than the son, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story), so he’s got to be there to speak for the candidate. The campaign chair would know how best to use the dirt on Hillary, so he’s got to be there.

      Just the fact that there were three of them in the room speaks to the importance attached to the meeting, whether they were meeting with foreigners or US citizens. Add in that they *were* foreigners — not eligible to vote, nor eligible to contribute financially — and the presence of three top aides in the room becomes a sign of just how much importance the campaign attached to this meeting beyond the usual concerns of the campaign (getting votes and getting money).

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        One or two of those top aides attending that meeting – with note takers and assistants – would seem more typical, not all three top men.

        Much of the material from that and countless other meetings would be assessed and its value and use determined afterwards.  That’s when the exchange value would be determined or confirmed.

        Keeping track of the debit and credit side of election favors is a big part of a campaign team’s work.  So is keeping track of who met their commitments and who reneged.

        We get none of that real-world dynamic in the descriptions Trump and his people give for much of anything.  Certainly not for anything related to Russia.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          To add re: Kushner.  Not only was he a son-in-law; he was a man with a very expensive loan at 666 Fifth Ave on property purchased for $1,600,000,000 in Jan 2007 – which turned out to be a bad moment in a market cycle.  Ahem.

          In addition, Jared seems to have been the main campaign link (along with Bannon) to the Mercer-funded Cambridge Analytica.  According to several published reports (including Forbes, May 26, 2017 by Steven Bertoni), Kushner oversaw the digital electoral ‘start up’ that spent $400,000,000 in 50 states.  (IIRC, it was based in Austin and overseen by Brad Parscale.)

          The purpose of the digital — Cambridge Analytica — arm of the Trump campaign was ‘psychographic’ profiling of US voters.  Part of this work would have involved buying media ads, including Facebook ads.

          In response to user reactions about the digital media ads, bots reverberated responses across social media platforms to generate data patterns.  These data patterns would  then have been (recursively) fed into campaign planning: Trump’s travel schedule and speeches were developed in response to the data patterns generated by bots.  And voter reactions to those events was then re-measured by bots, which then created new data patterns, which were then used to update campaign planning.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

          Michael Flynn was also involved in this activity as an advisor. (See Vox article by Sean Illing, 4 April 2018).

          So, to Peterr ‘I’ll see you and I’ll raise you’: I agree that Kushner had Trump’s trust.  But I’d argue that Jared role was far more important, and his presence at the Trump Tower meeting was a sign of the significance that event had for the larger Trump campaign.

          Completely agree with bmaz that it is baffling the press seems not to have explained the full ramifications to the US public. Maybe House committee hearings will help…

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        @EoH when you put it like that:

        “Just the fact that there were three of them in the room speaks to the importance attached to the meeting, whether they were meeting with foreigners or US citizens…”

        What you wrote makes so much sense. I’ve been involved in many political campaigns over my years, but hadn’t thought about that TT meeting in the terms you laid out here.  Thank you for brilliantly pointing that out.

  4. Avattoir says:

    fearless, Josh Barro called you “attorney Marcy Wheeler” on today’s edition of the Barro/Ken White All the President’s Lawyers colloquy.

    In response to the  r   e   a   l   l   y   long-winded question posed White which followed Barro slipping in the news of your official standing

    (If Barro had said “lawyer”, that could just have been taken to refer to one of those honorary degrees liberal arts colleges keep giving Oprah. But AFAIK what Barro invoked is quite a bit more impressive – indeed, rarer, if not actually unprecedented: a form of practice license.

    It brings to my mind the Monty Python sketch where Eric Idle invoked “Yhe Bournemouth Amateur Gynecological Society and Cricketers’ Club”, except with a twist: hospital privileges!).

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Contrary to the MSM not wanting to get out in front of its sources, elements of the MSM are all about clickbait.  Take Ari Melber… please.  (Apologies to Jack Benny.)

    Ari outdoes himself by giving airtime to four people who should be under indictment: Page, Caputo, Nunberg and Corsi.  Melber does not advance the debate or public knowledge of events.  He succeeds in retarding both.

  6. Marji says:

    Hey, does anyone remember hearing about a folder that the Russian lawyer left on the table at the end of the meeting?

    • Peterr says:

      Yes. From the AP, July 14, 2017:

      A prominent Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer attended a meeting with President Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign chairman last year, the lobbyist said Friday, adding a new wrinkle to the Trump team’s evolving explanations about the June 2016 session.

      Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his involvement to The Associated Press in an interview. He had not been previously identified as a participant in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York, which was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign. . . .

      [snip]

      Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.

      “This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled her saying.

      Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.

      “They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.

      Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.

  7. Ckymonstaz says:

    Hard not to wonder sometimes if the MSM would rather carry on their faux outrage and empty ranting about agent orange for another four years worth of clickbait and ratings than report anything that might lead to successful impeachment (I’m sure they are salivating for the daily stories if the house proceeds, just maybe not a conviction in Senate)

    The real question is whether the electorate will stay engaged after the Donald is gone? Seems they fear we will get bored and return to our sheephood

  8. BobCon says:

    @EoH

    I think you’re right about the deep reluctance of the media to get out in front of their sources. This leads to the followup question — why not?

    I think the answer is an issue I’ve complained about. Upper management is failing to see the scope and implications of Trump’s cases, and staffing accordingly. There is a hurricane brewing, but they are staffing it like it’s nothing more than afternoon showers.

    They need dedicated resources with centralized control and a far more uniform narrative — no more Schmidt and Haberman repeating what sources tell them — and everything must go through an approval process by a single desk with the analytical ability to put all of the pieces together.

    Imagine a hurricane bearing down on Miami and a local TV station deciding to let reporters repeat whatever forecast they felt like and cite whatever opinion on evacuation they got their hands on, with no consistency or common terminology even in a single broadcast, and no clarity on whether there was even a storm on the way. That kind of decentralized, ad hoc reporting is what we’re getting over a year and a half after Comey’s firing made clear this wasn’t a passing storm.

  9. P J Evans says:

    @BobCon
    Jeeze, we had better controls than that when I was doing peon data entry in the mid-to-late 80s. We got written handouts (with pics, if needed) so everyone got the same information, and there was a central source for all of it. [digression (How good was that control? 20 years after we finished loading the database, I got extracted data from it – 4.26 million records, of which I needed fewer than 15K – and found that (a) I could still read the records and how we’d done it, and (b) the people we turned it over to hadn’t f*cked it up much; I saw some places where they had, and I could tell exactly how, but that was from my own experience. (I also could put names to most of the fields, despite not having seen them in the interim. There were maybe two other people left in the entire company (11K employees) who had worked with it, at that point.) /digression]

  10. Strawberry Fields says:

    I think this article and the “compromise: before he won the first primary” would go viral if it was on the washingtonpost opinion page.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Speaking of primaries, it seems the GOP doesn’t need no stinking primaries, instead selecting Kaiser Quisling by acclamation.

      https://www.rawstory.com/2019/01/republican-party-passes-resolution-cancel-gop-primary-due-trumps-effective-presidency/

      Back in the day at UC Berkeley, my buds and I put together a Monarchist Party to elect our emperor (my roommate) in order to outrank the “Duke” that was governor in Sacramento.  Total parody, but we got 10% of the vote with a few flyers.

      Speaking of parodies, and in honor of the Palace and its minions I bring in Weird Al doing “Dare to be Stupid”:

      • Randall says:

        > Speaking of primaries, it seems the GOP doesn’t need no stinking primaries, instead selecting Kaiser  >Quisling by acclamation.

        Are they?   Or are they planning an exit path, if TSHTF in the middle of primary season, too late for them to give the nomination to Kasich or some other Generic Republican?  (If Don of Orange wins half the winner-take-all primary campaigns before the walls come tumbling down – the Repos would like to have a fall-back available.)

  11. OldTulsaDude says:

    In essence, the New Republic article describes a mafia family. The Don — David Dennison — whispers that it would be good if no one outside the family knows about such and such and then relies on his insiders to make that wish happen.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM and its corporate sponsors are not much in favor of change. They are not much in favor of challenges to official narratives. I think that’s an expression of the post-Watergate consensus that too much democracy was a bad thing for America and that the press should discourage it.

    One way the MSM does that is by sticking to horse race lingo: one person or party will win and not the others. It shoehorns people, issues and candidates into that frame. It closes the Overton Window and talks only about who is likable, who can win, where, and by how much. Given that priority, emotion is good; issues, facts, and context are bad.

    Marcy’s New Republic article describes the effect of that with care and damning precision. As she lays out, the MSM avoids stating the most obvious implications of facts.

    If “Mary” were to die in a pool accident, for example, we would read about the following: her youth and promise, her love or fear of the water, the depth and temperature of the pool water, the weather, the presence or absence of a diving board or ladder, the number of people who might have prevented her death or their absence.

    We would not read that Mary “drowned” until the coroner tells us so, and that will be on page 29 weeks later. Few will put together the effect and cause. Disrupting awareness of agency is important to tamping down democracy. Coverage of the lies of Donald Trump has a similar trajectory.

    As Marcy’s legendary potty mouth suggests, she is apt to be more direct. As her training and experience, her ability to slice through words, the skill with which she dissects arguments and reams of documents suggest, she is usually right. As with Cassandra, the Olympian MSM is more comfortable the less she is read or believed. It upsets their framing. I wonder whether she gives a fuck.

  13. Semanticleo says:

    The angst over ‘White Hunter, Black Heart’ Donnie is beyond reason almost like ‘Methinks thou doth protest too much’ as a harbinger of self-destructiveness.

    When shall this scourge be expunged?

  14. Avattoir says:

    earl of h makes a strong point, about how, in essence, deliberately leaked conscious lies & feints get treated as “news”, while what fearless leader pulls together gets treated as “opinion”.
    Then just above here, Straw F makes a point I suspect might be just as true: then whenever someone such as fearless here manages to get one of her pieces into the Times or the Post, almost invariably it creates a major buzz with readers and even can have an affect on the Op-Ed regulars that lasts for multiple news cycles or even days.

    I yam WAY out of my lane here in suggesting something that I strongly suspect Marcy might well be an actual authority about (given the area of her PhD), but FWIW way back more towards the middle of the last century, during my college daze before heading off to the lawyer place, other than drinking coffee & shooting hoops, I spent more time over the course of 6 consecutive terms in studying the genesis of dead tree political ‘news’ publications & their evolution towards become something else (specialized magazine, trade news bulletin, tabloid urinalism, daily newspaper, whatever – my research said either they adapted and/or evolved or else they were taken over or just withered & died), than on any other interest – and what I saw, plus a lot of reading of texts on the history of newspapers, led me to the hypothesis that the 2 biggest distinctions between political newspapers that lasted the longest, and those that changed early or died young, was NOT in the accuracy of their news reporting (at least on politics), but rather on their news analysis pieces, and how those pieces fit with their given publisher’s ideology. If their news analysis DID fit the paper’s slant, that was a sign of the publication being on its ways to morphing eventually into some variation on ‘trusted local newspaper’. If it did NOT fit, then that made a take-over more likely, or conversion into a vehicle for announcements of farm implement auctions, or something else not ‘hard news’.

    So I THINK what we’re all seeing over the last year plus, with Marcy’s name appearing so frequently on msm publications and established mags, is that those ‘old news hands’ that manage in those contexts recognize that her pieces WORK – yet nonetheless, the manufacturers, leak depositories and purveyors of influence journalism, such as the caliginous Devlin Barrett at WaPo & the fuliginous team of Haberman & Schmidt at NYT, have snagged the much higher and more regulary-paid assured employment gigs in the “newsroom”.

    • Semanticleo says:

      NEWS used to be like a public service announcement.  It was the People’s Airwaves once.  Now it belongs to Wall Street.

      Once upon a time ,(prior to the 70s) News Divisions were not held to budgets.  They were autonomous from the Ratings Game as to ad revenue, and were not competing in the same sense they do today.

      At the risk  of repeating it’s the scourge of capitalism as Adam Smith saw it that killed Journalism.  There is no ‘Invisible Hand ‘ correcting human avarice.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I.F. Stone was an outsider, too, as were his like-minded colleagues around the world.

    Marcy’s politics might be different than Izzy’s, but her work follows a similar pattern: intense reading and analysis of publicly available information, drawing difficult connections from disparate reams of material. She reaps useful information – and connections – that the established press sometimes does not want found.

    Stone’s beat was DC, especially the USG. He and colleagues more able to travel than he was, but with a similar bent, investigated the bombing of Hiroshima and the long denials of radiation poisoning, the Korean and Vietnam wars from the perspective of the official enemy, the cruel abandonment of a generation of British children to unknown fates in Canada and Australia, the Thalidomide scandal, and more recently the disavowal of the mistreatment of generations of children by the Catholic church.

    Their reporting almost uniformly defied the official news narrative, which often benefited from government and corporate approvals. They reached those positions through hard investigative reporting and hard facts often vigorously denied by the powers that be.

    The MagHabs of the world have a sweet gig, working inside the tent with only their noses only occasionally looking out. The weather, the work and the rewards are harder on the outside. But I suspect it smells a lot better.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump can still deliver his very important speech before both Houses and the Supreme Court and everything. He just has to work out a compromise with people who disagree with his priorities. Piece of cake for the world’s greatest negotiator.

    In fact, the Don can deliver his SOTU any day he wants. It just can’t be before both Houses of Congress on Capitol Hill. He can hold it anywhere he gets permission to hold it, although he might have to pay for it. Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster are probably available. But that would be a bit rich for a guy who shut down the USG as part of his strategy to get his way, and isn’t getting it.

    One good thing from this cruel Trump shutdown, which is hurting millions of people who just want to do their jobs, is that it demonstrates how small Trump’s thinking is, how little he can hold in his mind at one time, how bereft of strategy and tactics he is, how easily tied up in knots he becomes. His reaction is to leave the room, go to another, and turn on the TV.

    That should make many fearful: Trump remains president with enormous power. It also makes Trump look as mentally and physically frail as he really is.

    That should empower both Democrats and Republicans to do what needs to be done: get the government working again before the neoliberals shut down more of it for good, and deal with Trump in the fullness of time and their investigations.

    • Peterr says:

      To the extent that Trump was a real-estate deal maker, he made deals by being able to say to city planners, elected officials, regulators, and others who might not give him what he wants, “If you don’t take what I’m offering you, I’ll just go to some other city/state/country and you’ll lose out on the jobs and growth my investment will make.”

      Trump is dismayed to discover that you can’t use that strategy when you’re president. He wants to (witness his “pay up or else” to NATO), but not with a Congress at least in part controlled by the Democrats. If he wants a budget that approaches his priorities, stomping his foot and leaving the room will not get the job done.

      And that’s what’s driving him nuts: he’s never had to negotiate when he *has* to negotiate.

      And then there’s the fact that he’s never really had to negotiate with a powerful woman. (Well, not if you exclude divorce settlements.)

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect that those officials that said “yes” to him have discovered that the promised jobs and business never make up for the money they lose – from the jobs not materializing, to his business failures and his undervaluing of real estate for tax purposes.

        And now those officials are talking to Congress, where they aren’t actually in Congress.

  17. Alan says:

    I would hope the Dems refuse to show up for Trump’s SOTUA as long as government workers aren’t getting paid. In fact, I hope a union picket line is set up outside Trump’s venue and the Dems refuse to cross it.

  18. lawrence a fisher says:

    The Trump Tower meeting is key. There is no evidence to support that there was no follow up, that the meeting was a waste of time, that it was unproductive. Just their word. Desperately, Trump’s people and Trump himself have gone out of their way to pooh pooh the import of this meeting to the extent that alternative dates of briefings on Trump Tower Moscow have been offered including in front of Congressional Committees. Adoptions turned out to be code for sanctions. Maybe Trump Tower Moscow was code or cover for Russian interference or assistance in the election. And Cohen canceled his Russia trip June 14, 2016 or 5 days after the Trump tower meeting with the Russians. Cohen has a lot to say on this topic, but Mueller likely doesn’t want him telling Congress or the public. Yet.

  19. RLHall says:

    I want to say how valuable these posts and comments are to me. Saw the article in the New Republic, which was great, and this adds so much.

    I have to ask that you be more careful in citing quotations. Sometimes they are too vague, and I have to go back and try to figure where they are coming from. It’s a troublesome step, maybe, but it would certainly help.

    The paragraph that begins, “On June 8, the White House …” introduces a comment that appears to come from The Donald by context, but that can’t possibly be correct. All along he’s denied any foreknowledge of that meeting. (We think that’s a lie, but that’s another story).

    • Greenhouse says:

      I don’t know which article you’re reading, but the article I’m reading clearly says “On July 8, the White House” not “On June 8, the White House”. Further on, the Marcy’s paragraph states the following:

      On July 8, the White House put out a Trump (and Putin) statement claiming the meeting was only about adoptions, and therefore didn’t include any topic that was a campaign  issue. As part of that statement, Trump claimed that “there was no follow-up.”

      Now, if you click on that Putin link, you’ll be able not only to find who that statement is attributed to (Don Jr. via lawyer), but it’ll also provide a little more context to Marcy’s current article. Hope that helps, peace.

  20. Reader 21 says:

    Excellent work, as usual EW—thank you!  And the comments were great too—I’d just add, when I did campaigns (many moons ago), it was constantly drilled into us, that the only three things we had were time, people, and money—and of those, time was the only one which was finite, and always decreasing—which only serves to reinforce the points already made, about how preposterous it was that Jr (arguably the top surrogate), the son-in-law and trusted adviser, and head of the campaign, were ALL in attendance—and how Maggie and Mike still have yet to point out how preposterous a claim that is, that it was a “nothingburger.”  Not just them, to be fair—but access journalism has its limits.

  21. Cathy says:

    @RLHall I believe the citation is given in the link embedded in the first line of the paragraph (the words “and Putin”). The attribution of the quotation does require some close reading: It is the statement put out by a lawyer nominally on Don J.’s behalf; specifically, it is the statement coordinated by the Trump team from Air Force One, elsewhere reported as “dictated” by Trump.

  22. Cathy says:

    @EW:  The citation of the quote noted by @RLHall looks fine. Might the dates in the following two lines of the post contain a typo (should read July 8 & 9)?

    On June 8, the White House put out a Trump (and Putin) statement…

    [snip]

    On June 9, Don Jr put out his own statement…

  23. progressiveandsane says:

    Hi — recent Emptywheel devotee here. I am also a journalist of three-plus decades who now works in a job where I read defense discovery in civil litigation cases, and I have learned this: The public record tells you the story — the internals contain more damning details, but they don’t change the outlines of the narrative. The I.F. Stones and Marcy Wheelers of the world, with nothing more than their fine minds and the public record, give us the story, and the MSM would do well to adopt their simple, but effective methods.

  24. Taxidermist says:

    Re Peterr @ 8:04 “Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money.”
    Knowing what we know now about all the Russian money flowing to the GOP, was Jr. asking her to confirm she had receipts?

  25. Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

    Regardless of the meeting with the Russians produced any actionable dirt on the HRC 2016 campaign is immaterial. Why? NOT reporting the offer from the Russians was a felony for EACH American (so far that’s Fredo, Jared, and Paulie Walnuts), and quite possibly a conspiracy (AFAIK it takes 3 people to form a conspiracy). The crime was misprision of a felony for failure to report. IMO, it was also a conspiracy to not report. For all we know, their futile explanations may have been bullshit and the real purpose of the meeting was to coordinate the DNC hack and plan an hack on HRC’s server in Westchester. If that was the case, we are talking about a much broader conspiracy since the hacks were criminal.

  26. Jim_46 says:

    Among many other things, this extraordinary episode in our nation’s history serves to illustrate beautifully the importance of expectations in shaping perception. A large number of people share an expectation that a smoking gun will look like, say, a Smith & Wesson revolver, wood grip, black frame, bulky cylinder, dangerous-looking barrel. But a person like Marcy Wheeler, standing to the side of the group, can see that the others are walking past one smoking gun after another. “Look,” she says, “an AK-47 with Vladimir Putin’s fingerprints on it.” “Nah,” says someone, “that’s not what a ‘smoking gun’ looks like.”

    The ground is littered with smoking guns, only none looks exactly Dirty Harry’s piece, so they keep looking, looking, looking.

    Marcy alluded to this phenomenon just the other day when she titled her piece, “The House Intelligence Committee Can and Should Subpoena the 18-Minute Gap on the Trump Tower Deal.” Ah, thinks the literal-minded observer: “18 Minutes, Watergate, Nixon, rogue presidency, removal from office. I get it! I get it!”

    I take it that Marcy’s goal with this line of argument is to make it more difficult for opinion-makers to continue being such lazy thinkers. After all, how has Trump not already been drummed out of office? Partly it’s the point made by Ta-Nehisi Coates, namely, that after the country twice elected a black man as president, it was time for us to make clear that any white man can be president, even an addled amoral predatory racist criminal moron. Partly it’s also this phenomenon that Marcy is struggling against: a bunch of people with a misapprehension of what criminality and traitorousness look like. With regard to the latter, someone has in his head an image of Trump being slipped a note by Putin in Helsinki. The smoking gun! Never mind that the journalist already knows that the Trump Organization was actively working on a blockbuster deal in Moscow that needed the support and approval of Putin’s government and financing from U.S.-sanctioned Russian banks, while the head of that very organization as a candidate for high office was lying to the American public about the existence of such negotiations and calling for an end to those very sanctions against those very banks, meanwhile also criticizing NATO, praising Putin, etc.

    “Oh, lying about and trying to cover up every single contact we had with Russians, while trying to open up a backchannel to Putin beyond the ears and eyes of U.S. intelligence? That’s not a smoking gun. Brush up on your John Le Carre, and then try again.”

    [I think you made a typo in your username causing your comment to linger in moderation. Please acknowledge, thanks. /~Rayne]
    [FYI: Username edited to match previous. /~Rayne]

    • Jim_46 says:

      Rayne, yes, I did make an error, and I apologize. I will be more careful in the future. Also, thank you for your several excellent replies to recent comments of mine, and for your work keeping these comment forums working smoothly.

      I’ll take the opportunity to note that the phenomenon that Marcy is interrogating is being played out on a much larger scale. Are Trump’s supporters in Congress and the country, at least to some extent, wittingly telling falsehoods to match what they know Trump is pushing as his message? Yes. It’s basically the same dynamic. The alpha male/mob boss drops a hint, the pack/soldati take up the story.

      • Rayne says:

        We’re looking at a closed feedback loop. The right-wing media network reinforces Trump as a force magnifier across right-wing social media. With former Fox News executive Bill Shine now in the White House communications, I suspect the cycle will grow even tighter between Trump/Fox and the pickup by Sinclair/Breitbart/DailyCaller/other lesser outlets.

        And of course the authoritarian personalities which make up Trump’s base regurgitate this output uncritically across social media platforms, amplified with troll/bots.

        Elected and appointed GOP only have to watch a few key nodes in the loop and social media to shape and validate their stories.

        • Jim_46 says:

          The single, small bright light here is that this loop seems to be tightening, getting smaller, for a variety of reasons. The credibility (gasp choke) of Fox News with its viewership may be somewhat damaged of late. Whole categories of people are now effectively cutting their ties with Trump’s version of the GOP, as recent polls indicate. The increasingly embarrassing antics of the third-rate people still committed to the agenda of the GOP will only accelerate the rebranding of the Republican Party as the party of white supremacists, crony capitalists, snake-oil salesmen, two-bit con men, et al. Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich persuaded white people that it’s okay to be greedy and segregationist. That strategy was never going to end well, and now the proverbial chickens have returned home.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Great comments; I learned something from them.

            FWIW, I offer two ‘tea leaves’ to support your claims about delegitimized GOP:  Lara Trump’s clueless blathering about the shutdown, and Wilbur Ross’s comments (to Aaron Ross Sorkin, no less!) about federal employees taking out bank loans to cover lost pay.  (As if interest payments, dinged credit reports, and stress don’t matter.)

            On a side note, it’s increasingly clear to me that when this shutdown ends, it won’t be ‘over’: some things are fundamentally shifting in the psyche’s of Americans.  And every clueless Trump/GOP comment just triggers another  psychic churn in the minds of millions.

            • Jim_46 says:

              Thanks for the kind words.

              things are fundamentally shifting in the psyche’s of Americans

              This is very encouraging.

  27. Lurkandlearn says:

    Appreciate the enormous efforts and benefits of these analyses! Truly heroic. Now, can’t stop looking for updates to the drama multiple times per day… since I started lurking a few months ago.

    The NR piece sets forth what seems to be a major challenge in the PR (especially) and legal war: can you “direct” lying without telling someone to lie? As Marcy sets out, and many of us read clearly, establishing a culture of falling in line– that includes expectations for lying– functions the same as asking someone to lie. Comey’s descriptions of expectations for “loyalty” and experiences of being fired demonstrate the culture as well as any other example, imo. Rinse and repeat for Cohen and others. But, will others who are willfully dismissive of this evidence ever come around?

  28. Juanito says:

    Don Junior: the only man in America who’s done for his dong what his dad has done for his scalp. The Rogaine Administration, it appears.

  29. Manqueman says:

    LOL!

    Okay, NO COLLUSION. Just illegal obstruction, like every godfather mobster ever.

    LOCK HIM UP!!

Comments are closed.