WSJ torches Trump and Don Jr.: ‘They have created the appearance of a conspiracy’

Gabby Kaufman
Reporter

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board published a scathing assessment of President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr.’s conduct in the wake of the fallout caused by the latter’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign.

Titled “The Trumps and the Truth,” the editorial urges “radical transparency” from the White House in its approach to the congressional and Justice Department Russia probes.

“Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling,” the paper said. “Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.”

Trump Jr.’s changing statements concerning the meeting, and his eventual admission that he attended because he was offered incriminating information from the Russian government about his father’s opponent, earned a less-than-rosy evaluation from the Journal.

“Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere — the best case — the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide. They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct.”

Trump Jr., along with Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign chief Paul Manafort, all attended the June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. The White House had long insisted that no such meeting took place, but Trump Jr. copped to it last week just before the New York Times published a story about the emails arranging it.

In the emails, the meeting was pitched to Trump Jr. as an opportunity to collect damaging information about Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. It later emerged that in addition to the three people on team Trump and Veselnitskaya, publicist Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akmetshin, who served in the Soviet military, and at least two other people also reportedly attended.

Donald Trump Jr. walks offstage with his father, Donald Trump, after a presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26, 2016. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The Journal urged Trump, his family and his associates to release any pertinent information regarding meetings, communications and business dealings with Russians or anyone connected to Russia, with the rationale that the “short-term political damage” is preferable to “death by a thousand cuts of selective leaks.”

Although Trump is regularly pilloried by more liberal editorial boards, the Journal’s caustic attack against the Republican commander in chief is striking. The paper is under the umbrella of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate, which operates the Trump-friendly Fox News.

The editorial board noted that Trump is unlikely to heed its advice.

“Mr. Trump somehow seems to believe that his outsize personality and social-media following make him larger than the Presidency,” the Journal cautioned. “He’s wrong. He and his family seem oblivious to the brutal realities of Washington politics. Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don’t have much more time to do it.”

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