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Monday, July 17, 2017

On infamous Russia meeting, Trump's story keeps evolving | MSNBC

Image: Donald Trump, Andrzej Duda

"In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had a private meeting with, among others, a Kremlin-liked Russian attorney and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer. The controversy surrounding the meeting has taken the president’s Russia scandal to a new level, and Donald Trump Sr. has done his best to downplay the significance of the campaign discussion.

This morning, for example, the president argued via Twitter:

“Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!”

At a certain level, this is a continuation of the argument the president started pushing last week, insisting that opposition research is a routine part of any national political campaign, so there’s no need to make a fuss about the June 2016 meeting. If you have an opportunity to quietly obtain damaging information about your opponent, the argument goes, you take advantage of it.

According to actual “oppo” professionals, this argument is completely wrong, at least in the context of the Russia scandal. It’s one thing for campaign officials to pursue a possible lead; it’s something else entirely to meet with representatives of a foreign adversary that’s launched an espionage operation against the United States.

What’s more, the “anyone would have done the same thing” line is belied by recent history: in 2000, someone leaked the Bush campaign’s debate-prep materials to the Gore campaign. Gore’s aides promptly called the FBI – which is what Trump’s inner circle should’ve done, but didn’t.

But what stands out as especially notable about Trump’s latest pitch is the degree to which it contradicts the old pitches."

On infamous Russia meeting, Trump's story keeps evolving | MSNBC

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