Donald Trump, Jr.: How Stupid Is He?

Trump Maladministration

Although nobody comes out and says it, after Junior voluntarily admitted that he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer because she had promised information that would help his father’s campaign, the biggest question of the day must be, how dumb is this kid, anyway? 

The New York Times had a story that began this way —

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

The meeting was also attended by the president’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times.

But instead of denying that the meeting had anything to do with getting dirt on Hillary, Fredo Trump admitted it.

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.

Apparently, in Junior’s mind there was no collusion, since (he says) the Russian lawyer had no useful information. But he took the meeting with the Russian lawyer in the expectation that she would provide information to help the Trump campaign. Whether the information was of any actual use is beside the point.

Andrew Prokop writes for Vox,

Trump Jr. has already changed his story about this meeting several times — first claiming he had no such meeting, then claiming it was about the topic of Russian adoptions, and only now admitting he agreed to take it because an “acquaintance” he met when Trump’s Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow told him this person “might have information helpful to the campaign.”

This report comes after a pair of Wall Street Journal scoops revealing that a Republican operative contacted Russian hackers in an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails — and that the operative suggested that Trump adviser Michael Flynn was involved with his effort.

Together, these stories provide our first real indications that high-level people on Trump’s team attempted to work with people tied to the Russian government to get information that could impact the campaign and hurt Clinton’s chances.

We don’t know if the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was acting on behalf of the Russian government. We don’t know, really, what information she may have provided. Everyone involved insists that Donald Trump himself knew nothing about any of this. But Junior’s own admission tells us that he and other high-level elements of the Trump campaign were open to collusion with foreign nationals on behalf of the campaign, which is, by some accounts, a violation of federal campaign law.

And Jonathan Chait wrote,

Trump Jr.’s latest defense is that while he sought damaging information from Veselnitskaya, she failed to deliver any. However, the timing of events around this meeting is instructive. The hacker Guccifer announced the theft of Clinton emails the month before, and Guccifer’s only publicly known connection to Russia was his use of Russian proxy servers. But three days after the meeting with the Trump campaign, Julian Assange, Putin’s pass-through publishing source for email hacks, announced, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct.”

The most interesting follow-up question is, what was the nature of the damaging information that Veselnitskaya promised? Stolen emails, perhaps?

See also Josh Marshall:

The Times reports that they got the information from “three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.” They apparently talked after the release of the first story. This is highly, highly significant. Needless to say, advisors to the White House are not in the business of taking highly damaging stories and volunteering new information which makes them catastrophically damaging. The only reason a President’s allies ever do something like that is either to get ahead of something much more damaging or get a first crack at shaping the public understanding of something much more damaging. There’s really no other explanation. We don’t know yet what drove them to volunteer such highly damaging information. Five of them did it. It wasn’t a matter of one person going rogue.

Junior claimed the real purpose of the meeting was to enable U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. Back to Jonathan Chait:

One of the Russian government’s highest priorities is to repeal an American law, named after a murdered Russian dissident who exposed corruption at the hands of Vladimir Putin, which allows financial penalties for Russian human-rights violators. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with the Trump campaign, is spearheading this effort. Russia retaliated for the hated law by suspending American adoptions of Russian children: A discussion of adoption inherently implies a discussion of favors to be granted to Putin’s regime.

So there may be some truth to the adoption story, but that hardly makes it innocent. Obviously, Putin will want a quid pro quo. And this was before the election, never mind the inauguration.

And, as Josh Marshall wrote also, Junior’s claim that he thought that the DNC and Hillary Clinton might be colluding with Russians is preposterous. It’s the sort of excuse somebody with very little imagination might come up with, though.

See also Donald Trump Jr. just contradicted a whole bunch of White House denials of Russian contacts.

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  1. grannyeagle  •  Jul 10, 2017 @12:57 pm

    So what if Natalia’s purpose was to facilitate adoptions. That is not why Jr. agreed to the meeting. And if Sr. did not know about it, that is not good. It suggests that he was allowing others to do whatever they wanted without his approval. But perhaps he was glued to the TV or his phone. Besides, if Jr. met with Natalia hoping to get info on Clinton he is stupid. When I see the name Natalia, I am reminded of the spy in that cartoon, can’t remember the name.
    I am wondering if every time Donald says he didn’t know, was not involved, he is preparing to throw everyone under the bus, including his offspring.

  2. maha  •  Jul 10, 2017 @2:55 pm

    grannyeagle — you’re thinking of Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle, I believe.

  3. Swami  •  Jul 10, 2017 @2:12 pm

    Junior’s claim that he thought that the DNC and Hillary Clinton might be colluding with Russians is preposterous.

    In my extensive dealing with a psychopath I’ve learned that one characteristic trait is that they expose their modus operandi by the accusations they lodge against the person they are attacking. Whatever misdeeds and schemes they themselves are guilty of they project them onto their victim. It’s a particularly frustrating tactic to come up against in a legal proceeding because there is no way to defend against it when you know to yourself that it’s an absolute lie.
    Another point that was raised was the fact(?) that Donald Trump was in Trump Tower on the day this “brief”, “nothing burger” of a meeting took place. It is said that he had lunch on that day with Paul Manafort…What are the chances that this meeting was so insignificant to Manafort that it was never brought to the attention of Trump.. The fact that junior made exception to point out that Trump wasn’t aware of the meeting is proof positive that he was informed and aware.
    Psychopaths don’t fall far from the tree.

  4. Swami  •  Jul 10, 2017 @4:00 pm

    Well, this story lifted my spirits..It pulled me out of a depression. It’s better than 400 mgs of Paxil with a Prozac chaser.
    I’ve got a gut feeling (unrequited hope?) that Jared Kushner is going to get slammed hard when all is said and done. Maybe it’s because Ivanka and her father have tried to pass him off as some sort of boy wonder bordering on genius when surfacing information is indicating that he’s in way over his head.
    Money doesn’t compensate for smarts, so I think Jared overestimated his abilities or got pushed into the deep end by an overbearing Trump family. And Jared’s first foray into politics is going to result in his getting his fingers burnt.

  5. bowtiejack  •  Jul 10, 2017 @4:12 pm

    Hey, none of this calling the Trump litter stupid!
    Don Jr. has already pointed out that they come from superior breeding stock and, like their father, are genetically superior to ordinary schmoes:

    “Like him, I’m a big believer in race-horse theory. He’s an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother’s incredibly accomplished, she’s an Olympian, so I’d like to believe genetically I’m predisposed to [be] better than average.”

  6. uncledad  •  Jul 10, 2017 @4:39 pm

    how dumb is this kid, anyway?

    He’s dumb so is his Dad but they are smarter than the rubes who voted for them! What would you expect his father is also an imbecile, jr. was raised a spoiled know-nothing just like his Dad. These people have zero shame, zero morale’s, nothing, they are so dispatched from reality and full of entitlement they do not consider the consequences of anything in life. Just look at the father, you have your answer!

  7. Swami  •  Jul 10, 2017 @6:03 pm
    Seems Trump is losing his distraction mojo. C’mon twitter don’t fail me now!

  8. priscianus jr  •  Jul 10, 2017 @6:35 pm
  9. Diane  •  Jul 10, 2017 @6:36 pm

    Wouldn’t the sanctions placed by the US have to be lifted before Putin allowed adoptions?
    Is that what got Mike Flynn in trouble? Trying to undermine US sanctions?
    The 3 stooges were there because of adoptions? Really?
    I think not.

  10. joe  •  Jul 10, 2017 @7:24 pm

    Nothing wrong with taking the meeting, including to receive negative info about Hillary. Campaigns do it all the time. It’d be political malpractice not to.

  11. maha  •  Jul 10, 2017 @10:53 pm

    Joe — if the information is coming from a foreign source, it could be illegal.

  12. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 10, 2017 @7:30 pm

    How stupid?

    Well, the stupid turd doesn’t fall far from the dumbass sphincter!

  13. Swami  •  Jul 10, 2017 @9:46 pm

    Wow! This story is coming at us at the speed of light. I’m not sure if I’m reading the first paragraph correctly or if it’s an apparition born of desire. But if I am reading it correctly..a big WOW is in order. I wonder where Qusay was when all this was going down..I suppose he was off tending to his vineyard.

  14. uncledad  •  Jul 11, 2017 @4:21 am

    “Whatever misdeeds and schemes they themselves are guilty of they project them onto their victim”

    Swami, by that definition more than half of the republicant tea-tards are psychotic!

  15. bernie  •  Jul 11, 2017 @4:54 pm

    Swami and Uncledad, I could argue you are both correct.  First of all republican tea-tard is redundant.  In the Venn diagram of republicans a small to moderate percentage would  show serious leanings in that direction.  It depends on locality.  I think we can agree in general there is no such thing as a unicorn or a blue dog republican.  In the same vein, why not just say blue dog is a sub category of democrats.  There are a lot of them where I am from.

    One must concede to Uncledad that even a subset of tea-tards is a large number to ascribe a psychopathology to.  One could fairly reasonably ague that those who identify themselves and show ideas consistent with the tea party movement are generally symptomatic of the less sane, in absence of psychopathic symptomology, than the larger group of let us say registered republicans…but still a subgroup of the 25% who register as republican and 41% who identify themselves as republican leaning according to Gallup.  In my experience the ones who fly the snake and don’t tread on me flag are those who likely show extreme signs of psychopathology, though I will concede it is way out of my area of specialty. I would guess that this subset would be extremely likely to project blame, and display many other characteristics recognized as socio or psycho pathological.   It would make interesting research. 

    But, Swami, one swallow does not make a summer, and one symptom does not make a wacko job.  As I have read your comments regularly, I understand your conclusions about the Donald and family to rely on much more than one or two symptoms.  The heritability of psychopathology is another matter.  Way too big of a topic for those of my pay grade.  It could be that Jr. is just a bit on the dull side, but seems at the moment more honest than his old man at least.  That of course is not a high bar.  

  16. Swami  •  Jul 11, 2017 @7:25 pm

    ♫ chim chimney chim chimney chim chim cheree. Junior is as stupid as stupid can be. ♫

  17. Billikin  •  Jul 12, 2017 @2:25 pm

    I doubt if Junior is stupid. But he grew up in a protected bubble of privilege with a scofflaw father and grandfather. In his gut he knows that Daddy will protect him, and I expect that he is right.

  18. Swami  •  Jul 12, 2017 @4:31 pm

    I see that Junior has his father’s knack for lying… He’s not quite as polished a liar as the old man,but he certainly projects a air of being pleased with himself in his ability to lie. Just like his old man.
    That’s another trait that I ran into in my dealing with my full fledged psychopath. My psychopath prided himself in his skill of what he considered as getting over on people. He once made the claim that he could talk his way out of anything. The things that he did manage to avoid responsibility for were only avoided because those who had authority over him let him slide by attributing his wrongdoing to youthful indiscretion,ignorance,or plain stupidity.. The same flawed judgement that members of Congress and those in authority foolishly bestow on Trump Sr… ” Oh, he’s new at this”. “He’s not a politician”
    Like they never heard of the concept of being a responsible adult.
    When I was in basic military training we were required to carry a little booklet on our person at all time of our military code of conduct. There were 10 codes dictating what was expected of us. We were required to commit to memory and recite back to anybody in authority all 10 codes when asked for a corresponding number to a particular code.
    The first code was.. I am an American fighting man responsible for my action.
    If you drop the American fighting man bullshit part of the code and just look at the responsible for my actions part of the code you realize the days of copping out and trying to avoid responsibility are over. You are accountable for what you do and what you say. It seems to me that a big big part of what’s happening now with Junior is that his defenders aren’t looking at the true nature of what he’s done. To me it’s treasonous behaviour. He collouded with a foreign power to subvert our electoral process and democracy. And as a nation we’re making big mistake to not see this in its proper light.
    That big bag of shit Trump has sworn to defend the constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic.. and yet he praises his idiot spawn as a high quality person. Just another slap in the face for you, America. Welcome to the world of battered wife syndrome on a national scale. That’s if you can feel outrage.