NEW YORK CITY — The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has unloaded on US President Donald Trump and his family’s lack of transparency on the Russia controversy in a scathing editorial.
The editorial focused on the steady drip of details that continue to come out about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting last June with a Russian lawyer, a former Soviet military intelligence officer, a Russian translator, and the British music publicist who organised the meeting at the request of a wealthy Russian family.
Also present at the meeting were Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and an unknown eighth man who represents the family that first requested the meeting.
The editorial board referred to the meeting as a “fiasco” and added that “even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere — the best case — the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide.”
Although Trump Jr. initially said they had primarily discussed a Russian adoption program during the meeting, emails later published by Trump Jr. appeared to show that he took the meeting to obtain dirt on then-candidate Hillary Clinton, and that he was aware the meeting was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct. And they handed their opponents another of the swords that by now could arm a Roman legion.,” the board continued.
The editorial went on to say that “everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another.”
As evidence of that, it pointed to two congressional investigations and an FBI counterintelligence investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, all of which are examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion.
The best option going forward for the president and his family, the editorial said, was “radical transparency.”
“Release everything to the public ahead of inevitable leaks,” the editorial board said. Ty Cobb, the heavyweight white-collar defence lawyer Trump recently hired to spearhead his outside legal team, “should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russia investigations.”
The editorial board also pointed out that Trump had spent much of the campaign skewering Clinton for her apparent lack of transparency regarding the email controversy, and her “legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling.”
Trump should take steps to ensure his reputation isn’t remembered the same way, the board said, and it also warned that if Trump didn’t change his approach to the Russia investigations, the Republican party could face losses in 2018 if Trump’s popularity continues to plummet.
The board added that despite his “outsize personality” and vast social media following, he and his family are not immune from “the brutal realities of Washington politics.”
“Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe,” the board concluded.