Jul 11, 2017

3 days, 3 Don Jr. shocks to West Wing

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Top West Wing aides acknowledge that the three consecutive days of baffling, brutal disclosures about Donald Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting during the campaign is a story that will stick, with potentially momentous political and legal consequences.

Thought for the day: If The New York Times knows all this, imagine what Bob Mueller knows.

The dang emails: Last night's detonation, leading the paper with a 2-column headline, "Trump's Son Heard of Link To Moscow Before Meeting":

  • "Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father's candidacy."
  • "The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting."
  • "Goldstone's message ... indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information."
  • The internal mood, per The Times: "News of the meeting involving the younger Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Manafort blunted whatever good feeling the president's team had after his trip to Europe for the Group of 20 economic summit meeting."
  • "The president was frustrated by the news of the meeting ... — less over the fact that it had happened, and more because it was yet another story about Russia that had swamped the news cycle."

Be smart: A consequence of these stories is that no blanket denial of anything by this White House will be believable. So the President and his team can expect to be nibbled by ducks as long as they're in office.

P.S.

"

Kushner Cos. Sought Qatar Funds

as Jared Advised Trump," by Bloomberg's David Kocieniewski: "A few months before President Donald Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia and others to blockade Qatar, the real estate business owned by the family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, sought a substantial investment from one of the Gulf State country's wealthiest and most politically influential figures."

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George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

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Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

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The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

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Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."