It started as a meeting about adoption, with a Russian lawyer, then about sanctions, then about emails, then with a “former” Russian spy. At some point a C-list British promoter got thrown into the mix, alongside Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and most recently a real estate executive fingered in a GAO report for helping Russians launder more than $1.4 billion.
The meeting, the president, his son, and their defenders assure us, wasn’t collusion but rather “opposition research.”
Over the last week, dozens of articles have been written arguing about whether the meeting was appropriate in the context of opposition research. And to be more precise, many, many articles have been written by researchers about how they wouldn’t have taken the meeting. As best I can tell, so far no actual campaign researchers have come forward saying they would have taken it, or attempted to justify it.
Let’s start with the basic problem: research is hardly the no-holds-barred wasteland that President Trump and his eldest son seem to imagine it to be. And certainly, oppo has never been a get-out-of-jail-free card for bad behavior. Researchers are relatively anonymous staff, and they act at the behest of their candidate and campaign.
The candidate is presumed to be responsible for their work and their actions. If Don Jr. is just - as the president has suggested - a “wonderful young man” doing a bit of “opposition research,” the bill for it all still stops with the president. And that leaves him responsible for what now appears to be a blatant effort to collude with Russian representatives with government and intelligence ties.