Donald Trump Jr fallout shows just how powerful American journalism can be
An email chain between Donald Trump Jr. and a publicist setting up a meeting between the Trump campaign and a Russian government lawyer could not be more of a smoking gun.
It’s more like a smoking bazooka that took out any remaining hopes from the White House that this whole Russia thing was going to disappear.
Here’s what happened
This series of emails sent between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone explicitly prove the Russian government 1) offered the Trump campaign a chance to collude directly with the Kremlin and 2) that Donald Trump Jr., knowing the source and intent of this information, enthusiastically agreed to this meeting on the promise of damaging Hillary Clinton’s path to the presidency.
Take all that in for a moment.
To call these events unprecedented is a gross understatement. This is a huge turning point for the Russia probe and the country as a whole. And you can be sure its repercussions are being felt through all branches of government, especially at the very top.
Trump Jr., perhaps choosing go down with this sinking-ship-turned-toxic-Russian-dumpster-fire, tweeted out the entire email thread just as The New York Times alerted his team to this story.
Sidenote: It’s common courtesy for news outlets to make individuals aware of stories that directly involve them. Somehow, The New York Times still has the ability to remain courteous and respectful during even some of the darkest moments in American history. It’s pretty incredible.
Trump Jr.’s willingness — even eagerness — to collude with the Russian government in hopes of finding information to “incriminate Hillary” Clinton is — no pun intended — highly incriminating.
The emails sent to Trump Jr. show that this proposed Russian information “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” And to really nail down the whole picture, the email continues: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
And boom goes the dynamite.
Other sidenote: To apparently cement his role as the family f**k up, Trump Jr. inadvertently incriminated Paul Manafort and his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner by mentioning them by name and agreeing to set up a meeting with a “Russian government attorney.”
Take a moment and think about how the Trump family Thanksgiving may not be as joyous this year. *That is, assuming some family members don’t have their hands tied with other issues.*
Why this matters
The only reason we know about these emails is because of the hard work done by American journalists everyday. These were merely pieces of a thread that dogged journalists persistently pursued. The New York Times broke this specific story (and many others involving the Trump administration) and is joined by The Washington Post and other trusted, traditional news sources whose reporters kept digging and brought to light a myriad of inner dealings, closed-door meetings and secretive actions this White House (and past administrations) took to try to conceal the facts from the public.
This is why protections for the free press are written in the Constitution.
The Founding Fathers purposefully named the press in the First Amendment to stop elected officials from putting themselves or other countries above America. Alexander Hamilton essentially predicted a man like Trump. This quote is long but it’s spooky accurate:
When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits — despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
Alexander Hamilton. August 18, 1792 (Source)
Despite the constant barrage of attacks on press from the Trump administration, from labeling the press as an “enemy of the people,” to openly encouraging violence against reporters, the Fourth Estate somehow manages to keep the American people informed and involved.
This is what good journalism looks like: Informing the public of the facts and holding the powerful accountable.
Many of these journalists are essentially sticking their necks out before the most powerful man in America and unspooling the thread that ultimately will unwind his presidency. It’s that refusal to back down, to give into fear or intimidation that makes journalism so powerful.
This country as a whole owes a lot to good journalists. They’re the driving forces behind uncovering what’s going on in the Trump White House. They’re the ones who will continue to keep holding the powerful accountable.
And they’re going to be back at it tomorrow.