WATCH: Jake Tapper scorches ‘White House non-strategy’ of stalling, lying and making crisis worse
CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday schooled the Trump administration on crisis management, noting the maxim “in Washington, D.C. when beset with a scandal” is: “Get all the information out, get it out as soon as possible, and get it out on your own terms.”
Tapper noted in keeping with the president’s “desire to do things differently,” his team “seems determined to violate this sage advice in every possible way.” The CNN host then played a clip from Donald Trump Jr.’s interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, where Trump’s eldest son promised the communications he divulged on Twitter between himself and a middleman for a Russian oligarch were “everything.”
“This was not everything,” Tapper said Friday. “We are still learning new facts about that meeting that the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his adviser Jared Kushner had last June 2016, with a woman billed as being a Russian government lawyer with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. Billed as part of a Russian government desire to help Trump and hurt [Hillary] Clinton.
Tapper noted at least four more people—a total of eight—attended that meeting, including a Russian-American lobbyist with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.
“So much remains murky, so many questions remain,” Tapper said of the gathering. ”[Trump Jr.’s] emails indicate that by June 7, 2016, the meeting had been scheduled, and he expected to get a ton of dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.”
Tapper pointed out that very night, June 7, 2016, then-candidate Trump promised to “give a major speech on probably Monday of next week,” adding he would discuss “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”
“Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into a private hedge fund,” Trump said. “The Russians, the Saudis, the Chinese all gave money to Bill and Hillary and got favorable treatment in return.”
“But candidate Trump’s major speech … it didn’t happen,” Tapper said Friday.”That ‘major speech’ never never materialized. Question: Is there any relationship between the information Trump Jr. thought was coming about Clinton from the Russians—that he now says did not come—and this major speech Trump said was coming on Clinton and the Russians, among others, that also did not come?”
Tapper then posed another question, this one surrounding a discrepancy between Trump Jr.’s emails and statements various players have made since the president’s eldest son released those emails.
“In the emails, before any actual meeting was discussed, Donald Trump Jr. tried to arrange a phone call with Amin Agalarav,” Tapper said, describing Agalrav as the son of the Russian oligarch who was allegedly trying to pass incriminating information to the Trump campaign.
“Trump Jr. this week said that call never happened,” Tapper said. “But read the emails.” The CNN host then lays out the timeline of events, and points out that despite there being no record in the transcript of the emails, Trump Jr. is told at one point that he should be “aware” of his upcoming meeting with a Russian government attorney.
“How would Donald Trump Jr. be aware of this meeting?” Tapper asked. “There is no reference to it on the email chain unless, of course, there was a phone call.”
“Last night, Trump Jr.’s lawyer told us his client doesn’t have any recollection of any call,” Tapper said. “You know, when conservative Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina—the former head of the Benghazi committee—when he complained about the White House non-strategy of drip, drip, drip, this is what he was talking about.”
Watch the blistering commentary below, via CNN: