The New York Times reported Saturday that Donald Trump, Jr. met with a Russian lawyer to discuss potentially damaging information about then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. At least five White House sources confirmed the meeting, which was held at Trump Tower in New York City in June of 2016. According to the Times report, Trump, Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney with close ties to the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Trump, Jr. is alleged to have agreed to the meeting with Veselnitskaya on the premise that she had damaging information on Donald Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. However, in a statement released by Trump, Jr., he said that Veselnitskaya was “vague, ambiguous, and made no sense.” It seems that Trump, Jr. should have been perfectly capable of understanding someone who communicates just like his father.
Whether the meeting actually got to the point of exchanging damaging gossip about Clinton, the world will never know. Trump, Jr.’s word carries about as much value as a Trump casino on the Jersey Shore and Veselnitskaya’s sole career purpose has been to discredit an American law aimed at Russian human rights abusers. Knowing who to believe is like being handed two vials of poison and having to choose one.
The founder of Hermitage Capital, William Browder, whose company was victimized by Russian fraud activities, has called Veselnitskaya a “tool of the Russian government”. In addition to lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, Veselnitskaya is an outspoken voice on social media, attacking President Obama and his former policies, women’s rights, and America’s system of checks and balances that controls Donald Trump. She is a very well connected and represents a valid danger to U.S. security and interests.
She is the person that Trump, Jr. — like his father — probably salivated over meeting. The fact that a member of the Trump campaign team jumped at the opportunity to purchase or otherwise procure information on Clinton would appear to undermine one of Donald Trump’s long-standing claims: that he beat Clinton in last November’s election. Anyone hearing of Trump, Jr.’s meeting — except of course the minority Trump base of Middle Ameristan — has to ask, when does cheating officially become cheating?
Professional sports suffer a fair share of high-profile cheating scandals. A much-hyped NFL deflate-gate enraged American football fans. Superstar tennis player Maria Sharapova was banned from her sport for non-approved medications. Lance Armstrong doped. A-Rod used banned substances. The list goes on and on, but where does the cheating begin?
The act of cheating — of ingesting a banned substance, changing a bat, altering a ball — is merely the culmination of the desire, intent, and moral flaws that drive a person to take an unfair advantage. It is what happens when the craving for personal gain overrides values and good judgment.
The intent to cheat begins long before the act. A cheater is born the moment he asks a doctor for a prescription; researches a source; courts a ball handler with favors; or buys a vial of drugs — whether or not they are used immediately. The same is true for Donald Trump, Jr.
It should be irrelevant that Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting and began to discuss things that were vague and made no sense. Trump, Jr. became a cheater for his father’s campaign the moment he seized on the opportunity to obtain information and began executing his plan and pursuing the lead that tempted him. There is no question about his intention since he admitted in his statement that he agreed to the meeting because the source “might have information helpful to the campaign.”
What information did Trump, Jr. believe a Russian national might have — the latest poll numbers from a Russian university? Saturday’s Times report advances the Trump-Russia collusion theory several steps and is the first publicly acknowledged meeting between Russian influences and a member of Trump’s inner circle.
While it is difficult to accept that an American citizen seeking office would cheat to gain political power, there is another more disappointing aspect to this latest development. While horrified American fans will fill stadiums with roars of disapproval over athletes cheating, when a megalomaniacal family of miscreants usurps the democratic process and the nation’s government, it is like listening for crickets on a darkened ball-field.