Tag Archives: Donald Trump Jr.

Trump torches Bannon

I guess Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon won’t be exchanging Christmas cards any longer.

Bannon, the former chief strategist in the Trump White House, has decided to turn on his former boss-friend by writing in a new book that Don Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.” Oh, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chief Paul Manafort were there, too.

The president’s response may go down in political annals as a classic. He fired off a statement that declared that Bannon has “lost his mind,” that he had little to do with the victory that Trump scored in the 2016 election and that Bannon was the primary reason Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore lost an Alabama election he was supposed to win.

As one CNN analyst said, Trump in effect turned a flamethrower on his former top White House aide.

According to CNN: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” Trump said in the statement. 

Well … I guess this means Trump no longer has any relationship with Bannon. To think that Bannon declared after he was let go from his White House job that he would be the president’s best friend and most loyal political ally. Bannon pledged to carry Trump’s message forward.

What does Bannon’s published statement mean to the investigation that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting? Hmm. I suppose it might mean that it piques the curiosity of Mueller’s legal team enough to question Bannon extensively on what he means by “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”

Oh, the hits just keep coming.

HHS boss grounds those spendy private jets

There’s some of this going around the Trump administration.

The “this” is a penchant for spending lots of money needlessly. Taxpayer money, at that!

The latest perp happens to be Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price, who until just this weekend had been using private jets to travel to hither and yon to do the public’s business. What’s more, the public has been picking up the tab.

Secretary Price has grounded the private jets pending a government review of the practice. “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart,” Price said.

Fair enough. This is a bad habit that has emerged during Donald J. Trump’s time in the White House.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wanted the federal government to fly him and his new bride to a honeymoon location. I took note of that request in an earlier post and pointed out that Mnuchin is worth an estimated cool $500 million. I believe he could afford to pay for his own air transportation, although the secretary did mention “security concerns” as his reason for seeking government travel.

Back to Price for a moment.

Price’s travel habits came under scrutiny from Politico, which reportedly identified about $400,000 in private jet travel by Price since he took office earlier this year. Price hasn’t defended his use of private jets; indeed, he acknowledges the “optics don’t look good.”

While he was a Republican member of Congress, Price criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of luxury jets to fly around the country. Pelosi in fact had access to government air travel, given that at the tsheecond in line of succession to the presidency. She was criticized correctly for her use of the luxury aircraft.

As Politico  has reported, Price’s use of these private jets breaks with recent custom: Price’s use ivate jets breaks with the practices of Obama administration HHS secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States and deliberately avoided taking charter jets. HHS staff last year scrapped a proposal for Burwell to take a multi-city tour linked to the kickoff of annual Obamacare enrollment because the trip would have required charter aircraft and cost about $60,000. 

I just want to offer a word of caution here.

Everyone, it seems, is mindful these days of profligate spending at all levels of government. Secretary Price needs to re-calibrate his public-relations radar to ensure he can avoid getting caught in this PR trap. Don’t blow the public’s cash for the sake of convenience.

‘Like any father … ‘

Sarah Huckabee Sanders needs to get a grip on this indisputable fact: The man she serves as White House press secretary is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill parent who loves his children.

Donald John Trump is the president of the United States. So, when the press aide says the president was helping his son with public remarks to the public about a controversial meeting “like any father would,” she sets aside the fact that Trump is not like “any father.”

Sure, the president is still a father and a grandfather.

Sanders’s comment deals with questions into whether the president helped his son, Donald Trump Jr., craft a misleading statement about the nature of his meeting with a Russian lawyer who invited Don Jr. to meet with her because — allegedly — she had some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trump’s role as a parent in this context has been eclipsed — for better and/or worse — by his role as president of the United States, the head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

He ain’t just “any father.”

Special counsel’s plate getting quite full

Robert Mueller keeps getting more information than he can digest at a single sitting.

Yep, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian government meddling into our electoral process and allegations that the Donald J. Trump campaign colluded with the Russians is getting a good bit more, um, complicated.

The Washington Post is reporting, for instance, that the president told Donald John Trump Jr. how he should describe a meeting Don Jr. had with a Russian lawyer who invited him to meet so he could receive some alleged dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The president’s lawyer denies the story outright. Other Trump defenders accuse the Post of conveying “fake news.”

But, oh, this is the stuff of serious political intrigue.

Don Jr. supposedly reported the meeting was to be about “Russian adoption policy.” That wasn’t the case, according to the Post, which reports that young Don got instructions from Dad the President on what to say.

I believe that might constitute a serious obstruction of justice matter … if it’s true. The Post, of course, stands by its story, while the White House denies all of it.

Don Jr. isn’t talking. Imagine that.

Recall that another special counsel, Kenneth Starr, started looking into a real estate deal involving President and Mrs. Clinton. Then more tidbits began flying over his transom. Eventually, Starr got wind of a relationship Bill Clinton was having with a young White House intern. Starr poked around a little more and, well, the rest is history.

Mueller has the same latitude as Starr as he pursues the Russia matter. Stories such as the one published by the Post give him even more grist to pore through as he continues his pursuit of the truth behind the Russia story.

No dirt on Hillary? Really!

Let me try to keep this straight.

Donald J. Trump Jr. accepts an invitation to meet with a Russian government operative who tells him she’s got some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States.

Don Jr. goes to the meeting along with his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman for Don’s dad, Donald J. Trump Sr., the Republican presidential nominee.

He meets with the lawyer/government operative. What does Don Jr. get out of it? He says nothing came of it. There was no dirt of any use to the Trump campaign.

In other words, Hillary was clean.

The story, of course, isn’t entirely that the Russians didn’t have the goods on Clinton; it is that Trump the Younger thought they did and that he “loved it.” He didn’t call the FBI to rat out the Russian government. Indeed, the only grownup from the Trump team — Manafort — didn’t bother to blow the whistle, either. Oh, no. Don Jr. was accepting “normal” opposition research — from a hostile government that was hacking into our electoral process, undermining our democratic system.

As for the Hillary story, the Russians came up with as much actionable dirt on the Democratic nominee as congressional Republican investigators were able to find over the course of several years. That would be, um, nothing, man!

What a coincidence!

This guy speaks the truth … at Fox!

It’s become a cliché of sorts that “only Nixon could go to China.”

The communist-hating U.S. president was the man in 1972 to open the door to the People’s Republic of China and that remains one of President Nixon’s everlasting legacies.

So, then, it might be said that “only Shepard Smith at Fox can speak the truth” about Donald J. Trump’s “mind-boggling deception.”

I single out Smith because of the network he works for. Fox News Channel is known far and wide — and beyond — as being quite friendly to the president of the United States. Trump is a frequent guest on “Fox and Friends,” and Fox commentator Sean Hannity is quite fond of extolling the president’s virtues while overlooking some of the other, um, non-virtuous qualities of the man and the team with which he has surrounded himself.

Smith isn’t part of that cadre of Trump acolytes.

He took aim at the controversy swirling around Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with that Russian lawyer and the ever-changing reasons/excuses/dodges he keeps offering for why he accepted a meeting he thought would produce some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

“If there’s nothing there, and that’s what they tell us, why all these lies?” Smith told fellow Fox anchor Chris Wallace. “The deception is mind-boggling and there are still people out there who think we’re making it up. And one day they are going to realize we are not.”

You all know that I don’t watch Fox News regularly. My own bias forces me to wrestle with the notion that the network that once called itself “fair and balanced” has been neither “fair” or “balanced” in its coverage of U.S. politics.

Read The Hill’s report here.

Every now and then, one of the on-air folks at Fox shows us that journalistic integrity presents itself in a media organization well-known for the policies that come from the top of its chain of command.

Shepard Smith, I suppose, has become an “enemy of the American people” because he dares offer us a view that doesn’t comport with the president’s way events should be reported.

Welcome to the club, Shep.

In hindsight, Don Jr., try this approach

Hindsight provides such clarity.

What we cannot foresee looking ahead appears like magic in our rearview mirror. Isn’t that right, Donald J. Trump Jr.?

Don Jr. told Sean Hannity that if he could do things differently when he got that email from a Russian lawyer he likely would take a different path.

He got the email from a lawyer saying that the Russian government had some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was running for president of the United States against Donald J. Trump Sr. Don’s brother in law, Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort got the email, too. The subject line mentioned “Clinton-Russia: personal and confidential.”

Alarm bells anyone? Apparently not.

Trump got the email, then went to the meeting. He responded “I love it” when he learned that the Russians might have some bad stuff on Clinton.

How might he have handled it? Here’s a suggestion for Don Jr.

He should have called the FBI immediately to inform the agency that a hostile foreign government was offering to help his father win a presidential election. Yeah, he should have ratted out the Russians, who were trying to meddle in our electoral process; they had attacked our sovereignty.

He didn’t do that. Don Jr. has acknowledged that he accepted the invitation with the hope it would prove productive, that it would provide damning information on Hillary Clinton courtesy of the Russian government.

Is it a rookie mistake committed by someone with zero public service experience? Probably yes, but oh, man, it has some serious consequences.

If only he had seen as clearly then as he says he is seeing in hindsight.

Now for the big question, young Donald Jr.: Did you tell your equally inexperienced Dad about this meeting prior to its occurrence?

Is that a smoking gun over there?

Hmm. That smoldering around the White House is beginning to reveal its source … maybe, perhaps, possibly.

Then again, maybe not.

Donald J. Trump Jr. has just released a head-scratching set of emails that detail some information he received from the Russian government about dirt it had dug up on Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was running against Donald J. Trump Sr. for president of the United States.

Don Jr. told the Russians “I love it” that they have dirt on Hillary. You see, Junior was working on Dad’s campaign. The Russians wanted Donald Sr. to become the next president and apparently were doing things to facilitate that event.

Now we see that Don Jr. has been dragged right into the middle of this growing controversy. He ended up meeting with a Russian lawyer, along with campaign chief Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump (Don’s sis and the president’s daughter) and now a key White House policy adviser.

Here’s a new Question of the Day: Do you really and truly believe that none of these people — all of whom were up to their armpits in trying to get Daddy Trump elected president — would have kept any of this from him while he was campaigning for the high and exalted office?

The head-scratching, by the way, is occurring among legal eagles and pols around Washington who are wondering whether Don Jr.’s own legal counsel actually advised him to release this information to the public.

The hits just keep on comin’, man.

Check out the story here.

I’m betting there’ll be a good bit more to digest as we move forward.

It’s getting smokier in Washington, D.C.

The toughest job in Washington has been handed off from Sean Spicer to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, given that Spicer appears to have been taken off the White House press room briefing detail.

Sanders today sought to tell the media that there is nothing at all wrong with Donald J. Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer who reportedly told the young man that she had some dirt to pass on about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Donald Jr. received an e-mail informing him that the “Russian government” had information about Clinton that would be helpful to the Trump campaign. Thus, the meeting between Donald Jr. and the lawyer occurred. Interesting, yes? I damn sure think so.

Here’s the NY Times story.

Sanders said that campaign officials always meet with individuals or organizations in the heat of a contest. What’s the big deal? Actually, the big deal centers on questions about whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russians seeking to damage Clinton’s campaign and aid Trump’s winning effort.

The younger Trump says he will cooperate with congressional committees. He has hired a lawyer to help him sort through this mess. He says he has nothing to hide.

You know what? It’s getting a bit smokier and murkier as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his hunt for the truth. Senate and House committees also are firing up their own investigative machinery.

Sarah Sanders’s effort at justifying this meeting that Donald Jr. had with the Russian lawyer, though, has to rank as one of the lamer efforts heard in some time. It does illustrate the difficult task she must perform while speaking on behalf of this dysfunctional administration.

As for the Kremlin and what officials in Moscow are saying about this, they are denying that Donald Jr. even met with the lawyer. Of course the Russians would deny it. I don’t believe Robert Mueller is going to accept the Russians’ version of what happened … or didn’t happen.

Keep looking, Mr. Mueller.

Donald Jr. steps in it … bigly?

Did the eldest son of Donald J. Trump just say something terribly incriminating?

Don Jr. has told the New York Times that he met with a Russian lawyer on the promise that the Russian had some dirt that the Trump campaign could use against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Collusion anyone?

Isn’t that precisely what special counsel Robert Mueller is examining, whether the Trump presidential campaign worked hand in glove with Russian operatives seeking to damage Clinton’s presidential campaign?

The president denies any collusion. Indeed, there’s been no proof of any collusion. So far it’s all been speculation and allegation.

Now, though, Don Jr., has poured some fuel on the smoldering embers that keep producing all that smoke.

The Washington Post reported the Times story and took particular note of something that Trump the Younger said. According to the Post: “‘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,’ Mr. Trump said.

“Read that last part again: ‘the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.’”

So, if the young man is telling the truth, he went into the meeting expecting to receive dirt on Clinton. Did he pass it on to Dad? Did Dad do anything with it?

This story is getting murkier by the hour.