Donald Trump Jr. accepted help from what was described to him as a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to emails he has released publicly. Because of the nature of this action, we asked members of the Times-Union/Jacksonville.com Email Interactive Group what is their opinion of the appropriateness of this action. This is one of the questions that brought a ton of responses. We’ll run some this week and some the next. Here is the first batch of responses:
While I am uncertain, based on media coverage, as to whether what was done was legal or not, the premise of meeting with someone to gather information on a political opponent would not appear to be wrong in itself, even if the information came from a foreign source (so long as that information that was discovered, was not illegally gathered). If the information on the political opponent, which was being obtained, were illegal, immoral or unethical, it would seem that it would be fair game to expose it. If there were no actions that were committed by the political opponent that were illegal, immoral or unethical, then there would be nothing to report. If it is determined that an illegal (or unethical) meeting by Trump Jr.,was held andthere was no prior knowledge, by him, that the action of meeting was illegal, he should be judged or held accountable and prosecuted consistent with the Hillary Clinton illegal use of email; the Loretta Lynch meeting with former President BillClinton; or the use of private information from the Justice Department on candidate Trump. Political affiliation should not determine application of the law. There is much nastiness that has unfairly transpired (DNC treatment of Sanders; RNC treatment of Trump) and very likely continues being done for political advantage. Right now, I would encourage our legislatures, our government agencies and the media spending their time and energy on seeking common ground for fair solutions to Affordable Health Care, creating jobs, developing a simplified tax code, immigration policies, overhauling a failed welfare system, a plan to balance our budget, environmental regulations that fairly balance competitive and economic needs with reasonable standards for protecting the environment, enhancing support for our veterans, and etc. I personally believe Americans are sick and tired of petty politics, political polarization and legislative stalemate.If any action by Trump Jr. or anyone else, is found to be illegal, then the event should be handled according to the law and consistently applied. Until then, let’s focus on issues that matter to all Americans.
Bill Hammel, Jacksonville
Heads in the sand? What is it going to take for the segment of Trump supporters to stop blaming Obama, Democrats and anyone else who disagrees with the tweets that distort facts that are documented in interviews by [counselor Kellyanne] Conway, [press secretary Sean] Spicer, other White House spokespersons, and even the vice president. How is it possible to say that Trump Jr. was being transparent when he released emails relating to the meeting with Russian operatives? It was only a few days later, when once again there was verifiable proof that he was not truthful stating who was present at the meeting, much less what the give and take was. I think it is imperative that Trump Jr. and [senior adviser Jared] Kushner’s high level clearance should be revoked until a more thorough review of their activities occurs. What I would like to see the White House do is to stop the lies, stop blaming others; it’s not fake news when there is documented proof. NO, I’m NOT a Democrat or an Obama puppet, nor do I work for a liberal newspaper.
M. Klug, Jacksonville
Just on the face of it, Trump junior’s actions seems to be OK, since this would fall under the heading of “opposition research.” If that is indeed what was discussed at the meeting, then it seems to me that all is OK. However, it seems that other topics may have been discussed and there may have been some wrongdoing involved.
Robert Daly, Jacksonville
What can I say that you can actually print? Using dirty politics is questionable at best, but getting help from Russian sources has got to be deplorable. He must have wondered what they would want in return of the “help,” but then I guess they wanted to win at all costs, so it didn’t matter what they would extract as payment later. Criminal, underhanded and stupid!
Cheryl Ruppert, Jacksonville
The meeting in question between Donald Trump Jr. plus other key campaign officials with a Russian attorney ostensibly for access to negative information about Hillary Clinton was illegal! Election laws are clear that you cannot accept or attempt to obtain help from foreign entities in a federal election. Every day, more information is coming out about this meeting. It has been reported that Trump Jr. received documents at the meeting indicating that Russian money was sent to the Democratic National Committee. If true, this information suggests there was collusion between Trump and Russia to defeat Clinton and I suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is concern that, as the pressure on [Trump] continues to be ratcheted up, it will set him off to do something even more irrational and fire the current investigator or worse, start some kind of international conflict as a way to deflect attention away from the investigation. If you understand that he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder and has an emotional age of a 12 year old, these kinds of concerns can become real possibilities. We do know that he will continue to lie and act out. We can only hope that the Republicans in power will stop this before he takes us over a cliff.
Richard Sutphen, Jacksonville
They say that the acorn does not fall far from the tree. The lack of integrity and honesty that has been exhibited by his father seems to have permeated those closely associated with Donald J. Trump. This “junior” episode is another extremely poor example that our “First Family” projects to the world … and to our own children. Have we forgotten the innate quality characteristics of leaders like Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy? We have been graced with natural leaders whose sense of pride and honor carried the nation through troubling times. This band of street hustlers in fancy clothes were thrust into the national limelight almost as a freak of nature. The Trumps are the perfect dolts for TV shows such as “Entertainment Tonight,” but never to carry the responsibility for the pride and character of America. We respect the judgment of our neighbors. What is concerning is that after two years of exposure to the gross example set by the elder Trump, some of the people still haven’t got it. If we are to be excited by a “rally,” let’s rally around term limits, the end of gerrymandering and regulations that prohibit lobbyists from participating in writing the laws and funding elections. Perhaps not as exciting as a screaming crowd yelling, “Lock her up, lock her up!”
A.R. “Sandy” Enos, St. Augustine
Ignorance of law is no excuse; however, I am inclined to have compassion for Mr. Trump Jr.’s lack of knowledge. I notice that he appears to have asked for advice about the matter from two people he trusted: Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. Kushner should have known better, but Manafort is the professional political operative here. Since he did not guide these two novices to the FBI the greater responsibility is his. As to Donald Trump Jr., he accepted a job as a political adviser to his father’s campaign. With that acceptance comes the responsibility to know or quickly learn the rules of the operation. He cannot therefore plead ignorance as an excuse for violating campaign finance law.
Robert L. Manning, Mandarin
Remember Winston Churchill’s maxim: “Jaw, jaw is better than war war!” Any opportunity to sit down and talk off the record with one’s rivals, competitors enemies or friends should be eagerly grasped. If a third party offers information that will help in a negotiation, one is obliged — not merely entitled — to listen. Off the record means just what it says as long as the proceedings are legal,
Geoffrey Ashcroft, St. Augustine
The recent reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton illuminates the administration’s increasingly apparent disregard for the sanctity of our democracy. Trump Jr.’s meeting may not have been illegal, or particularly consequential, but it does demonstrate a seriously questionable set of values. By agreeing to this meeting, Trump Jr. effectively decided that potential political gossip outweighed the integrity of our electoral system. Some Trump defenders may object, as Trump did himself, that Trump Jr. was simply engaging in the routine election tactic of opposition research. While opposition research is regrettably common in modern day politics, Trump Jr.’s actions were especially troubling in that they directly empowered a foreign nation known for its contempt of America’s democratic institutions. Trump Jr.’s effort to collect harmful intelligence on Clinton was not inappropriate in and of itself, but his decision to defy overriding American interests crossed a sharp line of ethicality. This newfound information may not constitute a direct action against the administration on the part of the FBI or Congress, but it most definitely should further our suspicion of this turbulent and deceptive administration.
Carter Delegal, Southside