Donald Trump Jr., Russia & The Nature of Treason

The cry, “Donald Trump Jr. colluded with The Russians!” hangs omnipresent on the airwaves, the television screens and the manifold pages of internet political blogs. What sparked the outcry was a meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The meeting was organized by a man named Rob Goldstone, a British reporter and music publicist who formerly represented American pop-star, Michael Jackson. He has a reputation in New York City as something of party-hound; often hosting lavish parties at the well known Russian Tea Room, a restaurant situated a few blocks away from Trump Tower. Goldstone, due his profession, had a longstanding relationship with Aras and Emin Agalarov.

Aras Agalarov is a Russian billionaire, his son, Emin, is a rising pop star that brands his name in all-caps as EMIN. Both are longstanding friends of both Goldstone and the Trump Family, so much so that Donald Trump, Sr. even appeared in one of EMIN’s music videos back in 2013. According to a series of emails which Donald Trump, Jr. himself leaked, Goldstone contacted him during the tail end of the 2016 presidential elections (when Trump’s victory was all but assured), offering a potential source of damning information on Hillary Clinton. The “information” was apparently, according to Goldstone, funneled to him by the Agalarovs as a boon for their friendship with the Trump Family. Donald Trump, Jr. responded that he “loved it” and, after a few back and forths via email, he agreed to met with Goldstone’s vessel, a Russian attorney named Natalia Veselnitskaya.

According to all related parties nothing came of it. Donald Trump Jr. has related that he had been irked with the meeting, especially when Ms. Veselnitskaya evaded his questions about the pertinent information and instead began talking about adoptions from Russia which was naturally a completely tangential topic. This begs the question, who was the Russian?

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Moscow-based lawyer who has long worked with individuals connect to the Russian government in disputing major cases of import with her primary interested being the overturning of the infamous Magnitsky Act which saw the U.S. putting a freeze on 44 different Russian businessmen who were suspected of being involved in the prison-murder of the lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Natalia Veselnitskaya has denied any direct governmental connections to The Kremlin in the wake of the Trump, Jr. meeting though she did admit to meeting with Don Jr, Manafort and Kushner (who left after only a couple of minutes, apparently disinterested).

So what is one to make of this? Is it “-treason,” as numerous democrats, such as the mewling little grub known as Tim Kaine, would have us believe? Short answer is, “No.” All commonly accepted conceptions of behavior that constitutes treason converge on the definition: Any act that willfully betrays one’s country and countrymen, specifically if it aids a foreign power in undermining said country’s position. What Don Jr did was, perhaps indelicate, perhaps a touch impropritous – bad optics, as the talking-heads like to say – but it was most certainly not treasonous. If there was evidence that Manafort, Kushner or Don Jr. had willfully offered up government secrets to Veselnitskaya in exchange for damning information about Clinton or some Clinton-connected operative (like David Brock who has organized efforts that would, if successful, undermine the country) then that most certainly would have been treasonous. That, however, is not what happened; – or rather, there is no evidence that such a transaction took place – the fact that Don Trump, Jr. released all of his email exchanges online via Twitter would seem to make such speculations of treason even more outlandish than they, on their face, appear.

Second question is, did he do anything illegal at all. The answer to that question is: it depends. He could be caught in a couple of minor legalistic technicalities (though it is unlikely he will be charged with anything) but in America, this nation where much work is done to ensure that very little is accomplished, laws seem to multiply like viruses. They are everywhere, stacks upon stacks of documentation, legislation for other pieces of legislation to counterbalances the legislation that came before it and the legislation that may or may not come after. Whether or not he did anything illegal, essentially, hinges upon whether or not he has a savvier lawyer if the whole affair is dragged before a court (which seems, at this juncture, unlikely).

The lawful question is, of course, almost entirely removed from the ethical question. It is a sad reality that that which is illegal is so very seldom actually wrong and that which is wrong is so seldom illegal (take a gander at any given superPAC and try to tell me, with a straight face, that such conniving and shadowy activities should be legal! – I’d wager more than I own that you, being of sound mind and body, can not). Essentially, all Trump Jr. was trying to do was help his father defeat a woman who was obviously corrupt – one can scarcely fault him for doing so, even if he acted somewhat naively (for if I was in such a position the first thing I would have assumed was that it was some kind of set up!)

What is truly astounding to me is not the meeting which Donald Trump Jr. agreed to and attended, rather it is the peculiar ordering of priorities which most media analysts exhibit. Rather than being concerned with whether or not the Russian lawyer actually had – and potentially still possess – incriminating or damaging information about Hillary Clinton, almost every media personality, talking head and latenight fool is more concerned with some ham-fisted notion of Spectresque shenanigans! The crucial matter here should not be the innocuous Trump Jr. meeting, it should be in discerning whether or not the information which Veselnitskaya may or may not possess is actually true.

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