Home / General / The Possibility Exists That Donald Trump Jr. May Not Have Been Telling the Whole Truth

The Possibility Exists That Donald Trump Jr. May Not Have Been Telling the Whole Truth

Finnish national football team players carry a goal during a training session at the Puskas stadium in Budapest on October 10, 2011 on the eve of their EURO 2012 qualifying football game Hungary. AFP PHOTO/ ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s more details about the meeting Little Donald, that adorable young scamp, and other top Trump operatives had in which they hoped to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russians:

The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

The lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign.

The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.

Nevertheless, any suggestion that the Russian state attempted to influence the 2016 elections or that the fine, upstanding gentlemen running the Trump campaign may have actively sought their assistance is surely McCarthyism of the worst order. Although of course I support a full investigation.

Seriously, as Scocca observed recently, “[s]kepticism is fine but at this point ‘Trump didn’t collaborate with Russia’ requires a more convoluted explanation than the alternative does.” Hence, this truly epic goalposts-shifting by Kellyanne Conway.

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  • Oblios_Cap

    Say it ain’t so, Joe!

  • we also don’t have to believe that nothing came of the meeting. they keep saying that, but they literally lie about everything. so, we shouldn’t just take their word for it.

    • tsam100

      There isn’t any good reason to believe nothing came of the meeting. There wouldn’t BE a meeting if there was nothing to offer.

      • kvs

        The description of the information Veselnitskaya wanted to provide seems to line up with the information that’s been published by the CyberBerkut hackers about Ukrainian donations to the Clinton Foundation.

    • sigaba

      The Russians certainly know what came out of it, so theoretically they could all be blackmailed.

      But then again the Trumps have established over the past month or two that they seem to be either too stupid to blackmail, or they believe there’s simply no information that can actually do them political harm.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns is dispositive evidence that the “Trump can’t be blackmailed” theory is false

        • sigaba

          It is weird. They lie constantly and they act like the information is harmful but once it comes out they just hit the reset button and skate.

          It’s sortof like playing poker with the guy who doesn’t know how to read his own cards, and he’s constantly making obvious horrible bluffs and whenever he loses a hand the house just keeps staking him.

        • njorl

          I assume Trump’s cavalier attitude about the horrible things he says and does is because they pale in significance compared to the things we don’t know about.

          • efgoldman

            Trump’s cavalier attitude about the horrible things he says and does is because they pale in significance

            You give him way too much credit. He is an emotional four-year-old. He’s not saying one thing to disguise another. He lives in a narcissist’s fantasy world.

      • Charles S

        The Republicans have proven over the past month that their is nothing Trump and his associates can do that is “blackmailable.”

        Check mate libtards!

      • kvs

        That may be part of it. Another part is it seems like they don’t think there’s any information which is so damaging that a good media strategy doesn’t fix it.

        Compounded by completely misunderstanding that it’s not just the politics or their reputation at stake but also federal criminal liability.

        • Since when is the possibility of criminal liability a problem? You just lawyer up, bluster, threaten to counter-sue, stretch things out and eventually it all goes away.
          It’s worked for Donster in the past, so why not now?

    • mausium

      Trust us, we’d *never* lie to you!

    • It’s long been clear that the most decisive meetings were those between ambassador Kislyak and practically the entire Republican party at the Cleveland convention when the Republicans deleted support for Ukraine self-defense from the platform and the curated DNC emails began to flow. What’s special about Donald Donaldovich’s June 9 meeting is just the fullness of the documentation, speaking of emails, not what it led to. (Obviously like most business meetings it led to more meetings, but some of those plainly led to action.)

      • kvs

        That’s not clear at all. The decisive contacts seem to be whatever got Sessions moved into Trump’s sphere, nominated to AG, Bharara fired, and the Katsyv case subsequently settled for a slap on the wrist. For starters.

        • I could attempt to argue I meant something different by “decisive”, but I think I’ll just say thanks.

    • firefall

      but .. they lie about everything, and they admit a meeting took place, so .. there was no meeting?

      • well… they admit a meeting took place now, after reporters proved it.

        they always lie about the edge of what we know. then someone comes along and busts through a lie or two and they move their lies back a bit.

        • Captain_Subtext

          Obligatory comment about religion vs. science…

          • Hogan

            That wasn’t a lie, it was a parable.

            • Captain_Subtext

              With Trump, it’s an abominable parable.

              I was trying to figure out if I could fit noble in there also. “I’d rather have noble than a parables.”

              Sorry for the bad puns…

  • Helmut Monotreme

    I don’t feel particularly young, what with being 43, having the top of my head been the inspiration for several critically acclaimed lines of boutique billiard balls, and having a knee rebuilt more times than the six-million dollar man’s, but it’s good to hear that if I suddenly become a congressman or a billionaire, that I would in that instant regain all of my boyish innocence. Probably my hair would magically return and my ACL would spontaneously regenerate as well.

    • Denverite

      I’m just glad that at 41 I’ll be allowed to drink way too much and make a fool of myself once again…

      Wait, I’ll come in again.

      • Helmut Monotreme

        Drinking can enable it, but I make an ass out of myself on a regular basis without that excuse.

      • Domino

        At 27 I’m surprised I still don’t get asked what I’m doing not being in school during the day.

      • twbb

        Drinking at 41 is not quite as easy as drinking at 21.

        • Helmut Monotreme

          I find the drinking to be much easier. The recovery OTOH…

        • Drew

          At 28 I can’t drink like I did when I was 21. At least not without much more brutal hangovers. More often I tend to just pass out after 1 or 2 drinks.

          • twbb

            That’s me, now. Up until my mid-30s alcohol would make me hyper. Now it makes me sleepy.

      • ColBatGuano

        The Broncos probably won’t be that bad this year.

    • N__B

      If you’re a boy then I’m a tween. I guess I get to mope more.

      • Bruce Baugh

        And that polar bear grew up to be Morrissey!

  • Captain Oblivious

    I love Chait’s headline.

  • Denverite

    Hey, thanks for using a pic of soccer goalposts. I always figure that the saying was a reference to American football goalposts, but the intertubes tell me that I’m wrong…

  • tsam100

    The lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies.

    Well that settles it then. No spy would deny being a spy.

    • Denverite

      It’s in the Geneva Convention.

    • RovingYouthPastor

      “You’re not a cop, right? You have to tell me if you’re a cop.”

      • rudolf schnaubelt

        Only after having been asked three times.

    • rm

      I recently watched episode 1 of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, with an exchange something like this:
      — You don’t look like a detective
      — Well, detectives all try not to look like detectives
      — Then how do you know what not to look like?

      • Cheap Wino

        That show wasn’t great but I found myself watching religiously anyway. I have high hopes for season two.

  • Thom

    Soon we will find out that Philip and Elizabeth Jennings were top advisors to the Trump campaign.

  • reattmore

    Conway actually said, “The goalposts have been moved”!

    • Denverite

      I still can’t figure out if those are her actual words or whether it’s Chait parodying something that she said.

      • yes, those are her words.


        she says it about 6:28 into this segment.

        she’s blaming Dems for moving the goalposts.

        • Hogan

          Looks like she’s been sharing notes with Glenn Greenwald.

          To me, it seems as though the people who are moving the goalposts are the Democrats.


          • Lost Left Coaster

            Oh my god what a shitshow.

            Now, I guess there’s some sense that it’s wrong for a political campaign
            to take dirt on your adversary from a foreign government. I don’t think
            it’s illegal at all to do that, but there’s a claim that it’s somehow
            sort of immoral.


            Seriously, the hosts pushed him on a lot of points but I do not understand why they have him on Democracy Now! when he clearly should have a home now on Fox News. A lot of what he’s saying in that interview is the same shit they’re pushing on various Fox shows right now.

    • RovingYouthPastor

      It’s a right-wing strategy. You take whatever legitimate criticism the left has, and apply the exact words,incoherently and sans meaning, right back at them. See: “Fake News”, “No puppet, you are puppet!”, etc.

      I believe in classical rhetoric it’s called the “I am rubber, you are glue…” technique.

      • sigaba

        If you get an attack out before the other person, you can make any criticism sound retaliatory and tit for tat.

      • gocart mozart
      • Cheap Wino

        “I am rubber, you are glue…”

        The world would be a better place if more rubber had been used by the Conway and Trump families.

  • tonycpsu
  • petesh

    If nothing “happened” at the meeting, it’s only because it was happening outside the meeting. Chris Hayes did a close-read of the emails and concluded that not only was there time for phone calls in the midst of that email exchange, there was textual evidence that such calls had happened.

    Not irrelevantly, may I recommend this Forbes article from November 22 on how Kushner’s brilliant data operation won the election:

    Also this Guardian article from February, mostly about shenanigans before the Brexit vote, which suggests that the UK Brexit campaign was in practice an experiment conducted in advance of the US election:

    Kushner could have worked all this without Russia, but it gets much tastier if you can add some (free or cheap) bots to spam your target audience, not to mention hacking into the DNC. Someone had to make up those fake or exaggerated stories about Clinton. I betcha Bernie supporters were one target list. And I would not be at all surprised if some cash made its way to the Greens. It is, frankly, hard to predict what financial and electoral shenanigans Mueller will dig up &/or point to.

    Stay tuned, tovarich.

    • rudolf schnaubelt

      So happy we are finally getting back to that “data operation” and micro targeting the false news reports in the upper midwest (as we once referred to MI an WI).

      • petesh

        Much of that was, I admit, either legal or in a gray area. But I still have hopes that this is what will bring down the whole … are we allowed to say house of cards anymore?

  • All things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually correct.

    Which is why I’m waiting for the Trump team to announce that jr was just attending the meeting to see what the goods were before turning everything over to the FBI, but then didn’t see the need to worry the FBI about it.

    • rudolf schnaubelt

      You sir should be a criminal defence attorney. A good lie must account for all the extant facts. Well done!

      • My mother-in-law was a criminal defense attorney, so maybe it rubbed off :-)

  • dmsilev

    Cmon, be fair. Who among us _hasn’t_ brought a former KGB agent to sit in on a meeting?

  • mombrava

    I’m starting to get the sense that this meeting was not, in fact, about adoptions.

    • LosGatosCA

      It absolutely was about adoption.

      The Trump family was agreeing to be adopted by Putin.

    • Well, actually it was about Putin adopting the Trump campaign. So there.

      • You can blame Vladimir Vladimirovich for wanting to. We all get like that when our own campaigns are all mature and no fun any more. Nostalgic for the pitter-patter of little ratfucks.

    • Damon Poeter

      Hillary dirt/ratfucking was the quid. ‘Adoptions’ e.g. lifting sanctions was the quo.

  • Denverite

    We’re about 48 hours from the Trump administration settling on it’s final position in this, which will be “yeah, we met with the Russians, and yes, they agreed to help us beat Hillary, and you know what you can do? You can go fuck yourself.”

    • LosGatosCA

      Yup. The end game is always the same.

      Deny, deny, deny, fuck you.

    • “Because I’m president and you’re not! So there!”

    • Domino

      Steve M. is on the right track, I think, that the vast majority of Republicans probably now see any sort of collusion as actually patriotic, since crooked Hilary murdered those soldiers in Benghazi and the “FAKE NEWS” industry continues to coverup her crimes. And that’s not even bringing up Obama!

      • ssdd

        Yup. To Trump’s base its liberals, blacks, Jews, etc. who are the real enemy, not those nice white Christian folk in Russia.

      • Michael

        And on the other side, the True Leftists will argue “sure it’s bad, but how is it any different than Clinton being bribed by the Saudis through the Clinton Foundation, or the DNC rigging the primaries against Bernie, or Hilary helping support the coup in Honduras? Indeed, aren’t those arguably *worse* crimes?”

        I mean, Chomsky recently said Bernie would have won the general election if not for meddling from the Clinton/Obama team. I know he’s a bit kooky, but I wasn’t aware Chomsky believed in straight conspiracy theories. Meanwhile Sy Hersh believes the Syrian chemical attacks were a false flag operation. If only there was a columnist who might take issue with the spread of conspiracy theories amongst the left…

        • bassopotamus

          And then they’ll have to make Bernie president

    • royko

      I think all the lying does give everyone on the R side (including the rubes playing at home) time to get their heads wrapped around the “OK, so they were working with the Russians, so what?” idea.

      • efgoldman

        time to get their heads wrapped around the “OK, so they were working with the Russians, so what?” idea.

        1973: time to get their heads wrapped around the “OK, so they were transferring briefcases full of money, and covering it up; so what?” idea.

    • petesh

      Final? Final?!? How many final positions have they already discarded? There would remain an entire sequence of positions along the lines of “You can go and fuck that guy over there, no that one, I mean the other one …”

  • sigaba

    Josh Marshall teasing his Friday news dump:

    I know I speak for the whole staff – because I’ve spoken to probably half of them about this already this morning – when I say that for all that we are collectively steeped in this story, we are very much having a hard time keeping up with all the different threads that have emerged out of the original […] In any case, these are dimensions of the site we will be expanding in the coming days, weeks and months. Today, a lot of this will inevitably come from the Editors’ Blog.

    For now, I will simply say that if it looks to you like the wheels are coming off all this really rapidly, yes, it looks that way to me too.

    • AlexSaltzberg

      It’s probably just a timeline and recap of all the stories.

      Note — there are a lot of stories.

      • sigaba

        Yeah I know, it’s all they ever have…

  • thispaceforsale

    there are no goalposts, there never will be goalposts. Trump either is removed from office at some point prior to the end of the four year term, or he wins re-election with 97% of the vote.
    Those are the outcomes America is now facing.

    • SatanicPanic

      97% would be too obvious. It’ll be like 51%

      • Amadan CBEB

        110%. Amazing result. Unprecedented. The very best ever.

        • Domino

          “No president has received a percentage that high. I mean I can’t believe it. I asked my staff if anyone had before, and they told me no. Can you believe that? Tremendous stuff.”

          • FlipYrWhig

            “A lot of people don’t know this.”

        • royko

          His friend Jim voted for him. Several million times.

      • Charles S

        Would “too obvious” matter if he’s not actually impeached?

        I mean this crew makes the show “Shameless” seem sedate.

        • SatanicPanic

          I dunno, asking everyone to swallow being a Russian client state AND a sham democracy all at once (I know, the two are not mutually exclusive), would be a bit much to ask. Even dictators need some consent of the governed, and there’d be a lot of places that wouldn’t consent to that.

          • Charles S

            I guess it’s true “these things take time.” But think back to where we were just a year ago. A year from now imagine how much will have been normalized by the Republican party.
            I’m not saying things are hopeless or resistance is futile. But I have no illusions that 40% of the country wouldn’t right now accept an outright dictatorship if Trump offered it, and the Republicans–who hold all the formal levers of power–would do nothing about it.

            • SatanicPanic

              They don’t hold ALL the formal levers of power. The states have formal levers of power. And informal ones can be consequential too. We had four million people show up in DC in January when people were only unhappy with the results of what they (possibly wrongly) considered a legitimate election. Imagine the same sh*t sandwich with a helping of illegitimacy and I think there’s going to be a widespread rejection of it. What happens after that I don’t know, but my bet isn’t on nothing.

              • Charles S

                That’s a good point. And one hope is that the State of New York is able to prosecute some of Trump’s fraud he he cannot pardon himself or his family out of it. Whoever though federalism might save the republic!

            • efgoldman

              I’m not saying things are hopeless or resistance is futile. But I have no illusions that 40% of the country wouldn’t right now accept an outright dictatorship if Trump offered it

              Meh. Depending which poll you read at the time, 27-30% of people thought Tricksie Dicksie was innocent/railroaded the day he got on the helicopter. And he won in a popular and electoral landslide of historic proportions.
              Things are much more ideologically stratified now.

      • That’s 97% of the white supremacist vote. The only ones who will be allowed to vote by then.

        • SatanicPanic

          Last time we restricted the vote to just white men it didn’t end well for at least some white supremacists.

    • The only way Trump is leaving is on a stretcher or in a body bag. And that includes the magical 2018 wave that will hand the Democrats supermajorities in Congress.

      • N__B

        A straight-jacket is a possibility.

        • petesh

          Strapped to the stretcher.

      • Sumac

        If it’s in a body bag, it’ll be because Democrats murdered him. Democrats, as murderers, will lose the right to vote. And the Statue of Liberty will be replaced by a statue of Trump.

        • Cheap Wino

          And he’ll get the French to pay for it.

    • Professor Fate

      Once again Blackadder comes to mind – from Season III Episode 1 –

      Vincent Hanna: One voter, 16,472 votes — a slight anomaly…?

      Blackadder: Not really, Mr. Hanna. You see, Baldrick may look like a monkey who’s
      been put in a suit and then strategically shaved, but he is a brilliant
      politician. The number of votes I cast is simply a reflection of how
      firmly I believe in his policies.

      Vincent Hanna: Well, that’s excellent. Er, well, that’s all for me — another great day
      for democracy in our country. Vincent Hanna; Country Gentleman’s Pig
      Fertilizer Gazette; Dunny-on-the-Wold.

    • gocart mozart


  • JR in WV

    I’m not a Russian intelligence operative either; why, I’ve never left West Virginia, evah!!

    Well, except for college, and the Navy, and trip to Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos, and Italy, and France and Spain. But never to Russia, no Never; I tell you three times!!! Never, never!!!

    AutoBiography of Boris Badenov: “Russian spy, me? No, Never! Barely even speak Russian!! Speak to Fearless Leader in English, even!!!”

    • Hogan

      AutoBiography of Boris Badenov

      “Five stars! Must read! A real page turner!” – Natasha Fatale

  • rudolf schnaubelt

    A known GRU agent can have dual citizenship? WTF! UK/US, Canada/US, Australia/US even Israel/US I can understand. But Russia/US dually & this specific individual worked in counter intelligence? How does THAT happen?

    • Thom

      A trade?

      • rudolf schnaubelt

        But he kept his Russian citizenship, that’s the point of being dually. You can keep your original citizenship because your two nations share so many values. Let alone the individual case of a foreign intelligence officer even being granted citizenship. It is just bizarre & curious.

        • He wasn’t *granted* US citizenship. He was born with it.

          • rudolf schnaubelt

            He says he has been a citizen since 2009. He wasn’t born with it. He was born in the Soviet Union and served in Soviet military intelligence. Yet now he has dual US/Russian citizenship. This is not a typical situation.

            • If he was naturalized and is claiming to still be a Russian citizen as well, then he has committed Naturalization Fraud.

              “”I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely
              and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any
              foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I
              have heretofore been a subject or citizen; […]”

              Evey naturalized citizen must take this oath, which is legally enforceable. And yes, I know this will get a reply from Origami along the lines of “fuck loyalty oaths”, but it is still the law, and has been since the first Naturalization Act in 1790.

    • To be a dual citizen, he had to be born with American citizenship (as naturalized citizens are required to renounce other citizenships as part of the Oath of Naturalization). And it is not possible for the US Government or courts to revoke birthright citizenship – such citizenship can only be revoked by the individual in question.

      So yes, perfectly possible.

      • rudolf schnaubelt

        This is simply false. Please to be looking at US govt website for State Department. US gov.state.dual citizenship or some such (not sober enuf for details right this moment).

  • AlexSaltzberg

    I think my goalpost was somewhere around “Well, I think Trump is doing something illegal.”

    It was reached when he fired the FBI director.


    The known existing evidence is really bad. It was really bad months ago. None of the explanations are close to being acceptable. Even the ones that they try to use are quickly shown to be lies.

    I’ve said this a few times– In politics, the saying is “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.” Usually because the penalty for committing the crime is minor compared to the embarrassment of the revelation. But this is not the case — the crime is really bad. But as long as they keep pretending there’s a cover up, they can keep skating by as that’s the discussions instead of the crime.

  • Joe Paulson

    It was an unfortunate if understandable decision of questionable judgment by a nice boy new at this stuff but you know HILLARY CLINTON (ominous music) and we have no reason to think it had an effect on the election. (off camera) What a creepy sociopath.

  • MariedeGournay

    This is my surprised face: (•_•)

  • royko
  • DamnYankeesLGM

    I’m starting to think the most nefarious version of this story is the true one. Things seem to be ramping up in a weird way, and at this point the simplest explanation really is that he is being blackmailed. The leak of information from what seems like the Russian side, the Trump’s renewed push for lifting sanctions…it just doesn’t make sense. If this was purely friendship – like, if you think that Trump really just is very sympathetic to Russia in a totally non-scandalous way – this is just dumb as hell. Why the fuck would you say or do this given the pressure that’s on you for the Russia investigation. And if you were Russia, why would you even push for it now. You’d let the investigation blow over.

    But if you were genuinely guilty, then it makes sense. Russia might feel the squeeze coming and time running out, and so they are pressuring Trump to get the sanctions off now, while there’s still a chance. And Trump has no choice because even if this looks terrible, he knows the alternative – Russia giving him up – is worse.

    That really is the simplest explanation of the facts at this point, isnt it?

    • SatanicPanic

      “If this was purely friendship – like, if you think that Trump really just is very sympathetic to Russia in a totally non-scandalous way”

      He’d have already turned on them, like he does with everyone who presents him problems. I think you’re right here. There’s no innocent explanation, it’s only a matter of finding out how bad it is.

      • Cheap Wino

        Right. Trump has no loyalties, no allegiances that he wouldn’t drop in a hot second if he felt it benefited him. That he continues to double-down is troubling. The aside is that doubling-down is also standard operating procedure for Republicans accused of scandal. This is more than god-botherer who had an affair territory though.

    • Michael

      If this unfolds like the Rob Ford saga, than it ends with us getting the Pee Tape after Trump dies.

  • Emily68

    Kellyann Conway talking about “systemic sustained furtive collusion” reminds me of Nixon talking about taking the “modified, limited hang-out route”.

  • Avattoir

    If I’m getting right the intended meaning from the Associated Press report on the meeting, Akhmetshin – who acknowledges his presence was ON BEHALF OF the Rus ownershiip interest in Prevezon (being a Rus oligarch who is a long-time partner of Putin – which, Akhmetshin being Rus born and a former Rus COINTEL officer, would certainly know) – believes he’s exempt from the requirements of the US foreign agent registry program, because …. drum roll, please … after moving to the US he became a naturalized US citizen.

    The now daily invocation of the title of John Kennedy Toole’s only book by the embarrassed-for-the-party pantywaist contingent of the Americon punditorium, comes across with me as shallow, lazy, cheap, exploitative (of Toole’s creativity) and disrespectful (of the characters in Toole’s book), but I certainly UNDERSTAND why they feel forced to it.

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