Maybe they should just change the name of Trump Tower to Russia House. And place a plaque in the room on the 25th floor where the Axis of Moral Blindness of Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met in June 2016 with a Russian attorney in hopes of getting the Kremlin’s help in bringing down Hillary Clinton.
What was stunning about Trump Jr’s Fox News interview with Sean Hannity Tuesday night was the fast-talking self-confidence of the president’s oldest son. It was as if Trump Jr had entered the No Embarrassment Zone.
While he conceded a twinge of retrospective regret, even now Trump Jr failed to radiate any sign that he understands that presidential campaigns do not go trolling for opposition research from hostile foreign powers. “It’s what we do in business,” he said with innocence of Little Bo Peep. “If there is information out there, you want it.”
By his own admission, Trump Jr pressed the Russian attorney to dish the dirt. It was a different era, the president’s son stressed, since it was “pre-Russia mania”. It was as if the nature of Vladimir Putin’s regime had changed overnight from Jeffersonian democracy to thuggish authoritarianism.
Trump Jr probably believes his own talking points, a trait that he has inherited from his father. Without pre-judging the investigation by Robert Mueller, it is a fair assessment that if political stupidity were an indictable offence, Trump Jr would be facing a lengthy sentence.
The leaders of the Republican party, however, cannot claim similar ignorance about the nature of the Trump regime. The Republican’s paralysis involves more than the party’s collective 2016 decision to put its integrity in a locked vault in Mar-a-Lago.