Donald Trump Jr., while a senior adviser to his father’s presidential campaign, met with a lawyer who he was told represented the Russian government, and did so in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton and help Trump Sr. win the presidency.
The meeting, which was attended by Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort, and Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, took place in June last year. Afterward, Donald Trump, his sons and his spokespeople repeatedly denied any connections between the campaign and the Russians.
But we now know, based on an email chain that was released by Trump Jr. and The New York Times, that the denials were misleading at best, and outright lies at worst. Not only did Trump Jr. know that the meeting was with a woman he believed to be connected to the Russian government, according to the emails, he also believed that the dirt he was expecting to receive on Clinton was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
That, my friends, would appear to be collusion. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the strange, almost trance-like state of denial that has gripped Trump’s largely white base of support.
No one should be able to look at the meeting between top Trump campaign officials and a lawyer believed to be connected to the Kremlin, and find nothing wrong. No one should look at the Trump team’s obviously false denials of meeting with, dealing with and working with Russians and find nothing to worry about.
Yet, Trump’s supporters tell us it’s much ado about nothing. And I can’t help believing that Trump’s bigoted rhetoric, which has set his supporters free from the confines of political correctness, will make them excuse almost anything he does.
As long as Trump continues to give them license to denounce others based on their religious practices, color of their skin or nation of origin, they will support him. As long as he tells them that so-called Western culture will never be diminished, they will rest in the power of their whiteness. As long as Trump lends credibility to the “alt-right” by harboring one of their greatest champions, Steve Bannon, in the hallowed halls of the White House, they will support him.
And that, more than anything, gives me pause, because it tells me that some of my white brethren are caught up in a fit of racial euphoria that has rendered them unable to see the truth.
Trump surrogates such as Jeff Sessions met with the Russians during the campaign and subsequently omitted those meetings from sworn testimony before the Senate. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, met with Russians and lied about it. Kushner omitted contacts with the Russians from security clearances.
As if that weren’t enough, we now learn that the leaders of Trump’s presidential campaign met with a woman who they thought was a representative of the Russian government. And they did so in order to gain an advantage in winning the presidency.
But don’t take my word for it. Read Trump Jr.’s emails for yourself:
On Jun. 3, 2016, Trump Jr.’s friend, British-born former tabloid reporter Rob Goldstone wrote to him on behalf of a mutual friend, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov.
“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Goldstone wrote. “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras [Agalarov] 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 — helped along by Aras and Emin.”
Trump responded, saying in part, “I love it.”
Later in the resultant string of emails, Goldstone tells Trump Jr. that Algarov, the Russian pop star, wanted Goldstone to schedule a meeting with Trump Jr. “and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.”
Trump Jr. then tells Goldstone that he will bring “campaign boss” Manafort to the meeting, along with Kushner.
Trump Jr. believed that he was meeting with a Russian government attorney and that the meeting was reflective of the Russian government’s support of his father’s push for the presidency.
I can see that clearly in the emails the younger Trump exchanged.
I only hope my fellow Americans can lay aside Trump’s racial rhetoric and see that same truth in black and white.
Solomon Jones is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.