Trump-a-day

President Trump on Wednesday called for the nation to come together in “shared humanity” and “citizenship,” one day after giving a speech which resembled a “greatest hits” package from his presidential campaign (including pledges to boost the economy; crack down on illegal immigration, in part by building the border wall; and drain the Washington swamp).

“It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us,” Trump told a crowd of veterans at an American Legion conference in Reno, Nevada.

Sticking largely to his prepared remarks, the president pointed to the military as a positive example for all Americans when it comes to patriotism, hard work and common purpose, saying “we are one people, with one home and one flag.” (Minus, the transgender military ban, of course.)

“We are not defined by the colour of our skin, the figure on our pay check or the party of our politics,” Trump said. “We are defined by our shared humanity, our citizenship in this magnificent nation and by the love that fills our hearts. We are people who love. We are people with heart. We are people who adore. We are people who are great — there is no country like the United States of America. We have no division too deep for us to heal,” the president said, concluding his remarks. We are people who adore? Was his speechwriter previously employed as a junior screenwriter for Hollywood’s summer rom-coms?!

Many Republicans wish Trump would move on from Charlottesville, an incident that resulted in one of the worst stretches of his presidency (clearly testing his “no division too deep for us to heal” theory). Trump seems to believe it’s an issue that animates his core supporters. That says a lot about the true colour of his adoration. Remember Michelle Obama’s quote “being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

For all the rhetorical fireworks, it is difficult to see how this week’s speeches changed anyone’s opinion of him — for better or for worse.

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The chances of a government shutdown in the fall are growing. Congress returns to Washington next month facing a full plate of radioactive, must-pass legislation and a shutdown threat that looks more serious after President Trump suggested he would not support a spending package that omits new funds for a southern border wall.

Speaker Paul Ryan in his unique self-doubting speaking style pushed back at Trump’s suggestion that border wall funding is worth a shutdown. “I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said during a visit to an Intel facility in Oregon. He also explained that the president is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.” 

Good luck to GOP leaders in their quest to find a legislative sweet-spot that satisfies the president’s border-wall demand without alienating the Democrats, whose votes will be essential to keep the government running. “Democrats have made clear we will not support funding for President Trump’s misguided, ineffective border wall,” Joseph Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said this week.

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The White House Self-Appointed Warrior Princess, aka aide Kellyanne Conway, went after Hillary Clinton for “making excuses.” “She failed to make history and she succeeds at making excuses. And that is emblematic of a Democratic Party now that is so bereft of ideas and issues that they have to then play armchair psychiatrists.” 


Conway’s comments come after excerpts of Clinton’s new book “What Happened” were released earlier this week, in which she wrote that President Trump’s attempts to intimidate her during the presidential campaign made her “skin crawl.” Hillary said it as it was. “What would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?”

As for Kellyanne, what does she even do when she is not on Fox insulting people and passing her judgment as a gospel?

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This week, the White House reveals its new look, including the new wallpaper personally chosen by Trump himself. My gran used to have a similar wallpaper in the living room, in circa 1989.


Earlier this month, Trump denied that he called the White House a “dump.” Trump responded on Twitter to an article on the website golf.com. The story recounts a scene in which Trump was chatting with some club members at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. He reportedly told the members he visits the property so frequently because “that White House is a real dump.” Hopefully now that he was involved in decision making over the wallpaper, he feels more at home there.


For more visuals of the White House interior designs check https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2017/aug/23/white-house-renovations-donald-trump

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Tuesday night fiercely defended his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., at his first public rally since his remarks ignited a national debate about whether he had emboldened racists. 


Diring the 76-minute long campaign rally in Phoenix, Trump attacked the news media, Democrats and the Senate Republicans. The president mocked the protesters outside the building and the “anti-fascist” protesters that clashed with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, where three people died on 12 August. “All week [the media] are talking about the massive crowds that are going to be outside. Where are they?” Ah, Trump and crowd sizes… Nearly 20,000 people packed into the arena to hear the president speak.

Trump opened with a scripted statement calling for unity, but quickly veered off script to spend the bulk of the rally unloading on the news media for its “false” coverage of his response to Charlottesville, which sparked chants of “CNN sucks!” from his supporters. Trump read through almost the entirety of his initial response, arguing that it was adequate. “These were my exact words — ‘I love all the people of our country. We are going to make America great again. But we are going to make it a great for all of the people of the United States of America,’ ” Trump said. “And then they say, ‘Is he a racist?’ You know where my heart is,” Trump continued. “I’m really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.” Trump did not mention that he had also blamed “both sides” and “many sides” on two occasions, which is what provoked fury from his critics.

“For the most part honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, they’re bad people,” Trump added. “I really think they don’t like our country, I really believe that.” We know that he really means it. That is the problem.

Trump also accused news outlets of “turning the cameras off” at the rally and cutting off coverage of the event. However, no major news outlets appeared to actually stop their livestreams or video coverage of Trump’s speech.

Trump threatened to shut down the government if his proposed border wall with Mexico doesn’t get funding from Congress. “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.



At the end of the night, police in riot gear deployed smoke canisters and flash-bangs to disperse the crowd as protesters mixed with rallygoers streaming out of the complex.

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Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, said Tuesday that, despite President Trump’s remarks denouncing white supremacists and neo-Nazis, the president has yet to condemn the alt-right. 

Trump has never denounced the Alt-Right. Nor will he.#ArizonaTrumpRally

— Richard ☝Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) August 23, 2017

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An internet prankster posing as Stephen Bannon baited Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow into saying he would assist Bannon with his “dirty work” and help push Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner out of the White House, according to the emails provided to CNN by the anonymous web troll, known as @SINON_REBORN on Twitter. Bannon, who was recently ousted as chief White House strategist, promptly returned to his previous position as executive chairman at Breitbart News. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner frequently clashed with Bannon over internal policy discussions during his time in the administration, and his move sparked speculation over how the site, which has backed President Trump in his campaign and presidency, will now cover the administration.  

The fake account — designed to look like it was Bannon’s — reportedly first messaged Marlow on Sunday in an apparent attempt to fool him into talking about Trump and Kushner. 

“So do you think you’ll have them packed and shipping out before Christmas?”

“Let me see what I can do … hard to know given your description of them as evil,” Marlow responded. “I don’t know what motivates them. If they are semi normal, then yes, they out by end of year.” Semi normal…

Marlow defended Breitbart to CNN, saying, “If people want to know our thinking, they don’t need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page.” No, thanks!
 

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Monday announced he will not pull out U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as he is committed to a new strategy aimed at winning the nation’s longest war. 

During a prime-time address to the nation, Trump declared a rapid exit from the war-torn nation would leave a major power vacuum that would create a new safe haven for terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president acknowledged his “original instinct was to pull out,” a reference to his long-held view and campaign promise. Trump admitted that the calculation is different “when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.” Well, he was mentally present during at least one intelligence briefing on the matter, we have to give him that. Although, winning the war and building the peace are two different things, and it is the peace building process that Afghanistan is lacking.

Overall, it was a “very Trump” speech, as he declined to provide specifics or anything resembling a plan; showed he was pro-war, not peace; and blamed previous administrations. “When I became president I was given a bad and very complex hand,” Trump asserted. “No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.” (Oh, I am sure quite a few people would love to go back to 8 November 2016 and make better decisions).

“The American people are weary of war without victory. I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said, adding that, “in the end, we will fight and we will win.” Good luck! How will that look like, a total eradication of al Qaeda?

While the president is widely expected to send roughly 4,000 additional U.S. troops to the country, a recommendation made by the Pentagon, Trump declined to say how many troops he would send or reveal a firm timeline for how long they would serve there. There are roughly 8,400 American service members currently in Afghanistan. Most troops train and advise the Afghan military, but roughly 2,000 participate in counterterrorism missions. “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plan for further military activities,” Trump said. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy for now on. … I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.” Presidential Speechmaking 101: avoid facts in your promises, as they might stick and be held against you.

Unlike past administrations, the president said he does not seek to encourage Afghanistan to adopt Western-style democracy and institutions — just to ensure it does not become a refuge for extremist groups. No surprise here, coming from someone who mightily dislikes free press, women rights, gay rights, and pretty much approves of Neo-Nazis (think of his assertion that “very fine people” were on both sides of the clashes between white supremacists and protestors in Charlottesville, Va.). Do not get me wrong, I am not advocating for Western-style democracy in countries that have no history of democracy. I am 100% for equality and education everywhere in the world, though. 

Senator John McCain, who has spent months bashing President Trump for delaying a new Afghanistan strategy, commended him for “taking a big step in the right direction with the new strategy for Afghanistan.” Have you noticed that Trump always gets commended by one or two of his numerous critics on those rare occasions when he manages to stick to the prepared speech?

Contrary to McCain, Senator Jack Reed, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services panel, called the plan “very vague” and said it was “short on the details our troops and the American people deserve.”

Some people dared to say that Trump’s presidency is becoming ordinary (clearly, not Twitter users).


 “Trump still has every opportunity to turn around his presidency,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist. “Look, a lot of presidents have rough first years and go on to be very successful, and there is no reason Trump can’t do that.” Although even Conant’s optimistic outlook has its limits with regard to the president’s impetuous ways. “Trump will continue to follow his instincts, which will continue to lead him into trouble,” he said. 

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During a town hall with CNN in Racine, Wisconsin, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he wishes President Trump would tweet less, noting there are posts on Twitter he would prefer not to see from the commander-in-chief. “Do I wish there would be a little less tweeting? Of course, I do. But I think, I don’t think that that’s going to change.” I think he thinks right, even though he has a very roundabout way of expressing his thoughts. 

Trump-a-day

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney is touting a new term for President Trump’s economic agenda, calling it “MAGAnomics” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“We are promoting MAGAnomics – and that means sustained 3 percent economic growth,” Mulvaney wrote. The substance of MAGAnomics, which uses an acronym for Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is no different than what Mulvaney has been describing as Trumponomics for weeks. In May, The Economist published a withering cover story entitled, “Why Trumponomics won’t make America great again.” After interviewing the president on his economic agenda, the magazine concluded that Trumponomics “is not an economic doctrine at all.” In the aftermath of the article, Mulvaney made multiple appearances stating that Trumponomics meant achieving sustained 3 percent economic growth.

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President Trump this week lamented the difficulty of passing the Republican healthcare plan though Congress, likening it to the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict. “I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is healthcare,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night en route to France. Contrary to his previous proclamations that his administrations was absolutely going to broker peace deal in the Middle East, Trump has since admitted that the task was far more complicated that he had thought.


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Although thousands of Parisians were preparing to protest the US President’s visit to France, the rest of the capital gave a collective shrug as life continued as normal. The Independent interviewed a number of people on the streets of Paris and learned – “I don’t like him but if Emmanuel Macron decided to invite him it’s for some reason,” “Mr Trump can do whatever he wants – I don’t agree with it but it’s not like that here” and “the controversial state visit could do good by introducing Mr Trump to a “different culture.””
France has not forgotten the President’s previous remarks claiming “no go areas” existed in European cities and suggesting the country was incapable of fighting terror attacks on its soil, with protesters creating their own “no Trump zones” filled with music, dancing and performances.

On Thursday the French President and first lady, Brigitte Macron, took Mr and Mrs Trump sightseeing, which included a tour of the Les Invalides war memorial and Elysee Palace before a bilateral meeting, followed by a luxurious dinner in the Eiffel Tower’s famed Le Jules Verne restaurant. The dinner menu was rumoured to include blue lobster and caviar.

Somewhere along the way, Trump made ageist and sexist remarks to Madame Macron.


He also did that creepy handshake thing he is so famous for.


Trump also made a statement on the Paris Climate Agreement.  

Trump is to be the guest of honour at Friday’s military parade on the Champs-Elysees, the first time a US President had attended since George Bush in 1989.  

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Notable cover page 


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In genuinely good news, Michelle Obama made a rare public appearance at the 2017 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night. After receiving a standing ovation upon being introduced, Obama gave a heartfelt speech as she presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, posthumously.


Picture ABC News

“She knew that when we give others a chance to fulfil their greatest potential, we all win,” Obama said, according to The Hill.

Obama described how Shriver, a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, created the Special Olympics in the 1960s and turned the event into a global phenomenon. “Through her passionate service she made the world more welcoming,” Obama said. 

Shriver’s son, Tim, who accepted the award on her behalf, summed up Obama’s presence best: “Once a great first lady, still a great first lady.” It was so nice to see our favourite FLOTUS! 

Trump-a-day

A growing number of White House and Trump campaign officials are hiring their own lawyers to handle the wide-ranging probe into whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia’s 2016 election-meddling effort, The Hill reports.

Trump, Vice President Pence and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, have all hired personal lawyers, as did Trump’s long-time lawyer Michael Cohen and several former aides. Trump allies and White House veterans who have dealt with investigations say it’s prudent for staff members who might be swept up in the Russia probe to enlist their own legal help, even though hiring lawyers could place a heavy financial burden on some staff who did not enter government service with large bank accounts. Deep-pocketed Trump aides and confidants have retained veteran Washington lawyers who command high fees to help them navigate the investigation. Kushner, for example, has hired former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and renowned defence attorney Abbe Lowell. “There are famous stories from the Clinton White House about these astronomical fees,” said Robert Ray, a former independent counsel during the Whitewater scandal. 

Jennifer Palmieri, a long-time Democratic strategist who served as former President Clinton’s deputy press secretary, told The Hill that the experience of working in a White House under investigation is “even more disorienting than it appears.” “No one in a position of authority at the White House tells you what is happening,” she wrote in an op-ed last month. “No one knows. Your closest colleague could be under investigation and you would not know. You could be under investigation and not know. It can be impossible to stay focused on your job.” Inside the West Wing, staff are fearful that speaking out could result in them becoming entangled in the Mueller investigation. White House officials were reluctant to speak about the probe, even anonymously, out of concern about possible legal pitfalls. A dream job it is not.

President Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to hit back. He praised his son for doing “a good job” in a TV interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night. 


Parents…the most objective people when it comes to their children. 

Trump also blasted the “fake media” for what he said was the use of imaginary sources (i.e. his son’s emails, which Trump Jr. personally released on Twitter).


Thirdly, Trump hit at Clinton and the Democratic Party, condemning what he implied were double-standards. 


If Trump did not mention Clinton, it would have been most strange. He always seems to turn to her in moments of distress.

Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP strategist and a long-standing Trump critic said that “administration is paralyzed from its own actions. Nothing is getting done.” The increasing number of lawyers could make life even more difficult for a White House staff that is struggling to advance President Trump’s policy agenda by limiting communication and creating divisions between aides.


Trump said he’ll be “very angry” if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obama Care, as GOP leaders get ready to unveil their updated legislation. Trump said Republicans have been promising for years that they’d repeal Obama Care, and now with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, he said he’s “waiting” to sign a repeal bill. What if Senate Republicans aren’t able to pass their bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act? “Well, I don’t even want to talk about it, because I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset,” Trump said during an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson.

Meanwhile, in Russia

Trump-a-day

As is its weekly tradition, the White House is facing yet another grave crisis in the wake of the publication of emails between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and a go-between for a Russian lawyer. The emails from June 2016 call into question the main pillars of the White House’s defence against allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. 


Picture: www.sickchirpse.com
In one of the messages, music publicist Rob Goldstone, who acted as an intermediary in setting up the meeting, said Russian government sources were offering information and documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. told Goldstone in an email six days before the meeting occurred.

Trump Jr. published the emails on Twitter moments before The New York Times released them. In an accompanying statement, the president’s son said he was releasing the emails “in order to be totally transparent.” Why wait so long (and until the Times was about to publish) if Trump Jr. is genuinely concerned about transparency? Also this somewhat voluntarily revelation contradicts Team Trump’s repeated statement that while Russia may indeed have meddled in the election, there was no coordination or communication between Moscow and their campaign. Where was Trump Jr. in the last year? Why was a music publicist involved in this? So many questions. All in all, a classic example of inexperienced people jumping above their heads…

The atmosphere of crisis was apparent at the White House and in the broader Trump orbit, where hatches were battened down amid the storm. At a press briefing that was conducted off camera and lasted 22 minutes, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly parried reporters’ questions on the emails by saying their queries should be directed to the personal lawyers of the people involved. Sanders read a brief statement from the president during the briefing. “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the statement read in full. Well, very predictable and Twitter-friendly (under 140 characters).

The president’s Twitter feed remained free of any mention of the controversy enveloping his son, though he did tweet about his efforts to bring the Olympics to the U.S. and about “big wins against ISIS!”

Joe Sandler, an attorney who specialises in election law and who represents Democratic and progressive clients, said that the email from Trump to Goldstone was “direct evidence that [Trump Jr.] solicited something of value, which counts as a contribution from a foreign national” — a potential violation of campaign law. That interpretation is a source of dispute among legal experts. Sandler also poured scorn on the idea that the kind of exchange represented in the emails is commonplace on political campaigns. “It is very common for people on campaigns and people on committees to talk to people who claim to have damaging information about the opponent. But that is not foreign governments,” he said. “That is the key.”


Picture: Huffington Post 

Trump Jr. said Tuesday he would be willing to testify under oath about his election-year meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who offered compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

“And you have nothing to hide,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told Trump Jr. during an interview that aired Tuesday night. “That means you’ll testify under oath, all of that?”

“All of it,” Trump Jr. responded. He also said the meeting “went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about. I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” he said. Trump Jr. did not rule out the possibility that he spoke about the campaign with other Russians. “I don’t even know. I’ve probably met with other people from Russia but certainly not in the context of actual formalised meetings or anything,” he said. If he is asked to testify, he’ll need to get his story straight, that’s for sure.

In a Tuesday interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya offered a different account of the meeting. She said she never had any damaging information on Clinton and it was never her intention to secure the meeting under the impression that she did. “It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” Veselnitskaya said. Veselnitskaya also denied any connection to the Russian government. The Kremlin has said it does not know anything about the meeting.

Although it is not clear what happened in that meeting, contrary to Goldstone’s assurances, there is nothing to say that Hillary Clinton had any incriminating dealings with Russia. Not a statement the Trump family can use anymore.  
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Notable tweet

Trump-a-day

U.S. and Russian officials indicated on Friday — after a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — that the two countries would work together in a number of areas, including cybersecurity.


In Trump’s own words:
Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017


Predictably, that was met with mixed reaction, given the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election to favour Trump – a conclusion the president has not said he 100 percent agrees with.

I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

To recap, on 6 January 2017, the CIA, FBI and NSA released a joint intelligence report which found that an intelligence operation was personally ordered by Putin with the purpose of “denying Hillary Clinton the presidency” and “installing Donald Trump in the Oval Office.” Putin held a grudge against Clinton since 2011, the report stated, blaming her for inciting mass protests against his regime. In addition to email hacking, Russian intelligence used state-funded broadcasts, third-party intermediaries and paid social media trolls to spread false information.


Bearing this in mind, we definitely agree with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said President Trump’s plan to work with Russia on cybersecurity is “pretty close” to the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Graham stressed that there is no evidence the Russian meddling influenced the vote, but he said that by denying the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump “throws our intelligence communities under the bus.” “This whole idea about moving forward without punishing Russia is undermining his entire presidency,” he said. Graham is pushing for increased sanctions on Russia. The Senate passed such a bill, but it is currently delayed in the House. Reports have indicated the White House wants to soften the language.

Trump tweeted Sunday evening that he has low hopes for his proposed U.S.-Russia cyber security unit.

“The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!” Trump tweeted about three hours after tweeting about a ceasefire in Syria. 

Notable tweet:

Trump is basically admitting his own attempts at diplomacy are useless? 

— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 10, 2017

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The New York Times reported on Sunday that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who promised damaging information about Clinton. Trump Jr. attended the meeting with the expectation that he would receive compromising information about Clinton, three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two other sources with knowledge of the matter told the Times.

Trump Jr. said in a statement to the paper that he had met with Natalia Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance and denied that he received any information on Clinton.

An ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, said the meeting “borders on treason, if it is not itself treason. This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States. We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”