Remember that part in “All the President’s Men” when Deep Throat tells Dustin Hoffman, “The truth is, these are not very bright guys and things got out of hand”?
It’s been a heck of a few days after a heck of a few months after approximately 900 years that got squeezed into this mutation of the space-time continuum we’re calling 2017.
Our president’s namesake has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle and the New York Times, as the saying goes, is on it. The first story, published on Saturday, noted how Donald J. Trump, Jr. said in March that he probably met with people that were Russian — who hasn’t, in today’s globalized world? — but no meetings “that were set up” and “certainly none” in which he was representing his father’s presidential campaign.
And then this beauty of a standalone single-sentence paragraph:
Asked at that time whether he had ever discussed government policies related to Russia, the younger Mr. Trump replied, “A hundred percent no.”
But then the Times tells Junior — and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the young son-in-law with the security clearance and the mandate to fix the Middle East — that they know about a meeting.
How do they know about it? Well, that security clearance-wielding son-in-law’s lawyer went ahead and told them Junior invited his brother-in-law to it.
Families, am I right?
So back on Saturday, approximately 16 lifetimes ago, Junior says the meeting, with Krelim-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, was just about adoption.
On Sunday, the Times publishes another story, this time citing five anonymous sources, two of whom are identified as advisors to the White House, saying Junior went to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
This time, Junior says, OK, yes, we talked about Clinton — but it’s not what you think!
“After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.”
Russia was helping Clinton. Also, for what it’s worth, this Russian lady lawyer “made no sense,” Junior tells the Times.
On Monday, the Times has a new story. This one says there’s an email that explicitly told Junior the Russian lawyer had information on Hillary Clinton that “was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”
Yikes. What say you now, Junior?
Well, but, see, Junior. According to Vox, you’re really not supposed to get that info from foreign governments.
Junior also said the Times just didn’t ask enough questions for the first two stories, on which three reporters have bylines.
And by the way, he is happy to be called before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Other tweets that day include a New York Post story calling the Times’ work “a big yawn,” a Fox host claiming that calling the meeting a “nothing burger” is an “insult to nothing burgers,” and a retweet of Dad’s biggest fan, Laura Ingraham, re-upping a Politico story from January about Ukrainian efforts to help Clinton.
(In case you, like Ingraham, are too busy to click on the story, it says that Ukraine’s efforts “were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails. Russia’s effort was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, involved the country’s military and foreign intelligence services, according to U.S. intelligence officials.”)
Junior then channeled our favorite Mean Girl, tweeting:
And then along comes Tuesday. At 11 a.m., Junior tweets a statement and three pages of emails. What the heck?
Guys. Guys! Never give them more time to comment. This is the greatest lesson I ever learned from Andrew Cuomo’s press office. You politely say, “We’ll be happy to add in your comment whenever you send it!” and hit publish.
Now let’s look at this latest New York Times story.
Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said
Whomever wrote this headline is having a great day.
Less good day for the person who wrote the email to Junior that explicitly stated they wanted to provide information on Clinton that “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
To which Junior responded with a line that will make Carly Rae Jepsen weep missed-opportunity tears when she reads it:
He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The rest of the Times story includes incredible reporting, but more impressive is how it is written as a straight news story, but with the driest, most next-level shade investigative journalism has ever seen.
As part of their explanation of one of the characters involved, Emin Agalarov, whose father “boasts close ties to Mr. Putin,” they embed a music video featuring young Emin and our current U.S. president.
After quoting an email in which lawyer Rob Goldstone mentions “the Crown prosecutor of Russia,” the Times notes “there is no such title as Crown Prosecutor in Russia.” Another sentence refers to the damning Junior email (or future summer banger) as “his ‘love it’ reply.”
While all of this is obviously bad for Junior, it’s also not great for Kushner, whose lawyers have gone to lengths to emphasize his obliviousness to his surroundings before, during and potentially even after this meeting. And for Manafort, who said in February, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.‘”
Both men were forwarded the email that promised Russian state-sponsored dirt on Clinton. And even if they didn’t open it, the subject line was, I kid you not, “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”
Still can’t stop thinking of that line from “All the President’s Men.”