President Donald Trump is dead wrong to adopt the “everybody would do the same” defense with regards to Donald Trump Jr.’s decision to take a meeting with a Kremlin-backed lawyer in June of 2016, said Vanity Fair‘s Abigail Tracy on Thursday.
“As Donnygate has unfolded over the past week, President Donald Trump initially offered a handful of brief, vague defenses of Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial — not to mention legally questionable — meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer and the damning e-mail exchange that preceded it,” Tracey wrote.
After changing its story multiple times, the White House’s latest line of defense is that anyone in Donald Trump Jr.’s shoes would have done exactly the same.
The president told Reuters that “many people would have held that meeting” if they were running a major U.S. political campaign and someone informed them that the Russian government would like to help them gain an advantage.
This brought cries of outrage from aides to former presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush’s ethics attorney Richard Painter.
“If you can find someone in other presidential campaigns who has received [opposition research] from foreign interests, please share,” said former Romney 2012 campaign strategist Stuart Stevens.
Painter went so far as to call Trump Jr.’s actions treasonous, writing, “When a Russian agent calls to offer dirt on a political opponent, a loyal American will call the FBI.”
“However Trump chooses to spin Donnygate,” Tracy wrote, “the reality is that his son has served up the greatest public evidence to date that the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin’s efforts to see Trump elected, and that members of his campaign sought the Russian government’s help to make that happen.”