The Trump administration's attempt to control the damage from Donald Trump Jr.'s attempted collusion is dissolving faster than an Alka-Seltzer tablet in sulfuric acid.
After everyone involved insisted that then-candidate Donald Trump was unaware of the meeting that took place one floor below his office at Trump Tower, Trump has now admitted it “may have been mentioned” to him.
And Trump's White House is now clumsily trying to cover up that admission.
Trump held what was billed as an off-the-record session with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to his rendezvous with French First Lady Brigitte Macron and her husband. The White House later released a transcript of that session when it turned out that Trump had thought he was on the record.
However, the White House transcript omitted several exchanges, and now that they were free of the OTR constraints, reporters were able to describe some of them:
That second tweet is monumental because now that Trump has admitted to being told about the meeting, he has virtually guaranteed that he will one day have to explain what he was told under oath. And the FBI doesn't take “maybe” for an answer.
But it also confirms the existence of some other person or persons who told Trump about it, so even if Trump is willing to stonewall or perjure himself, the other person or persons can be leveraged into telling the truth.
As I have said before, Trump's habitual lying and pathological bad faith render off-the-record press gatherings perilous at best. But with the legal jeopardy attached to his every utterance these days, it has become unethical for a reporter to agree to any off-the-record session with Trump and his administration.
If not for this retroactive decision by the press office and this reporter's courage in reporting the covered-up portion, this admission would never have come to light.
Journalists who take the sanctity of OTRs seriously should protect them by never offering Trump another.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.