Sorry, I had no intention of writing yet another detailed piece today about the Don Trump Jr. meeting, but after the latest revelations about an additional person in the room, who it turns out was a lobbyist and also used to be (or still is...) a Russian military officer in counter-intelligence, I have to chime back in or my head would explode.
We'll start this way --
The attorney for Trump Jr. told NBC News that his client had no idea who this other person was in the room, and just thought the lobbyist was merely a friend of Trump's acquaintance. The lawyer, Alan Futerfas, explained that "He is a U.S. citizen. He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and in fact laughed when I asked him that question."
Well, hey, that's all the convincing I would need. Just like Vladmir Putin "vehemently denied" to Trump Sr. that Russia did not hack the United States. Proof positive. This lobbyist fellow is a U.S. citizen said he was not working for Russia and laughed at the suggestion. Good enough for me!
Oh, one thing I should add for clarity, so that you can better follow the story. His name is Rinat Akhmetshin.
Yes, yes, I fully understand he is an American citizen. And what's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I understand that. What Junior's lawyer conveniently left out is that that Rinat Akhmetshin was not only born in Russia, but has dual citizenship and is also a Russian citizen. Not just a good ol' American boy, apple pie, hot dogs and baseball and all that. So, I understand that, as well. And hat I also fully understand is that their meeting with a Russian lawyer for the Kremlin, and innocently accepting that a lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin, who supposedly happened to just show up at the meeting, and said he had no ties to the Russian government without their doing a background check, but merely took his laughing denials is something that strikes me as a 100%, completely and egregiously unbelievable action at best. And pathetically, mind-numbingly idiotic at worst.
All that, especially considering that this wasn't just a meeting with some summer intern doing "opposition research." but rather with the son of the Republican nominee, the son-in-law of the Republican nominee (one of his top advisers) and the campaign manager of the Republican nominee.
And the story goes further.
For one thing, it turns out that there appears to have been a seventh person in the room, as well. And that this person was a translator. Which means that half the meeting was spoken in Russian. (At worst, even if English was spoken, it is not an everyday occurrence to attend a meeting with a Russian translator.) And Don Trump Junior didn't remember this meeting. Nor did Jared Kushner when first filling out his security clearance forms.
But beyond that, it's just one more "Oh, right, I forgot to mention" piece of events that the participants keep leaving out. "This is everything," Don Jr. told Sean Hannity in an ill-advised, now on-the-record interview (perhaps based on the belief that the FBI and Robert Mueller don't get "Fox News"). When, no, it wasn't everything. And no, neither is this revelation "everything," I'm quite certain. Too many reporters have taken at face value what Junior has said about the meeting, not just that his father didn't know, but also that nothing came of it. The starting point shouldn't be, "Well, that's what Don Jr. said," but rather that every word out of his mouth should be considered a desperate lie. At least that's now getting to be the case.
Indeed, another favorite part of the story is that when Rinat Akhmetshin was asked about the meeting, in which his participation didn't surface until now, he answered, "I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest."
Okay, to begin with, I think we should jump right past the concept of "to be honest." There is very little here where "to be honest" fits in.
But putting aside the idea of not believing anything, absolutely anything, from anyone in that meeting, it shows how the idea of honesty and trusting what Rinat Akhmetshin says has no bearing on reality when we remember that this meeting -- which took place during the race for President of the United States and was set up to discuss Russian hacking efforts on behalf of the Republican nominee -- was attended not just by the son of the Republican nominee, but also the son-in-law of the Republican nominee (and one of his top advisers) and the campaign manager of the Republican nominee. Yet, Rinat Akhmetshin "never thought this would be such a big deal."
Rinat Akhmetshin's idea of a "big deal" and mine are completely different.
To be honest.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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