Editorial: GOP needs to demand Trump come clean on Russia

The Dallas Morning News
Guest Editorial


When will Republicans who care about their party, about the presidency, and about this country say enough is enough and stop defending President Donald Trump's entanglements with Russia?

If that time isn't now, given this week's revelations about his eldest son's meeting with a woman he believed was "a Russian government lawyer" carrying dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Kremlin, then it may never come.

Donald Trump Jr. has confirmed that he met last June in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer whom he'd been told would provide incriminating information about Clinton. Worse still, this "obviously very high level and sensitive information," Trump Jr. was told explicitly, "is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."

This information would have left most Americans, whether they planned to vote for Donald Trump or not, profoundly uneasy.

Not Trump Jr. And neither, apparently, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, nor Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — both of whom joined the younger Trump for the meeting.

Had any of those members of the Trump brain trust felt even a smidgen of discomfort, perhaps they would have reported to U.S. officials information purporting to show the Russian government was trying to influence an American election. At the very least, wouldn't they have canceled the meeting?

What happened instead is that the future president's son wrote back: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."

The meeting took place June 9 last year, precisely five days before The Washington Post reported for the first time that Russia had hacked into the Democratic National Committee computers.

For months, Trump and his campaign forcefully argued that any suggestion by Democrats that Russia had attempted to sway the election was utter fantasy. In July last year, a month after meeting with the "Russian government lawyer" in his office, Donald Jr. explicitly denied any Russian involvement and told CNN: "It just goes to show you their exact moral compass. They'll say anything to be able to win this. This is time and time again, lie after lie. It's disgusting, it's so phony."

Something is phony all right. America has known for months that Russia tried to help Trump beat Clinton, despite endless denials by Trump.

What we have learned in the past few days is that Trump's own campaign — even his own family — knew it was true all along.

Many liberals opposed to Trump have bandied the word "treason" about this week. That's premature. It's too soon even to tell whether the meeting even violated U.S. election laws, though many lawyers have argued it could.

But crimes or not, when will Republicans tell the president and his aides that we've heard all the lies about Russia the country can stand?

— The Dallas Morning News, July 12