Does Russia’s meeting of Donald Trump Jr. change anything?

If it’s what you say, I love it, Donald Trump Jr. replied on the statement -This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump. While, at least in my view hardly a proof of anything, it seems it shows that Trump Jr was willing to receive the info on the opponent from Russian sources. What do you get out of this next chapter of Trump-Russia story, does it change anything?

Jeffrey Engel, Director, Center for Presidential History, Southern Methodist University

I think these new revelations at once change everything and nothing.  They change everything because, if nothing else, it shows that then candidate Trump’s inner circle was both willing to receive information from a foreign source–something that is both illegal and, perhaps more importantly, just not done by professional political operatives in our country regardless of power–they also lied about the meetings.  This will not turn out well for those involved.

Yet, it changes nothing because there is no political will on Capitol Hill at present, with the Republicans holding majorities in both houses, to move forward speedily or decisively on any investigation.  The special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is of course on the case, but we should not expect anything from his investigation in perhaps a year or more.  So I suspect this story, while important, will continue to bubble along, sucking all oxygen in Washington in the process away from other political business.

I should note that we have a long history of presidents and political scandals in our country, but as an historian I can think of no case, perhaps since John Quincy Adams beat Andrew Jackson in the “corrupt bargain” of 1824, that an administration has entered office and spent its honeymoon phase with such a heavy cloud of scandal above its head.

Gennady RudkevichAssistant Professor, Department of Government & Sociology, Georgia College & State University

1. Trump Jr. doesn’t challenge the claim that Russia is helping his father win the election. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russia was trying to help, but it does mean the Trumps believed it was, despite numerous denials since the election.

2. Trump Jr. was willing to use documents that he believed originated with the Russian government. Again, it doesn’t mean such documents existed, but it shows a willingness to rely on the Russian government for electoral support.

3. I’m shocked that Trump Jr. released this email exchange. I’m not a lawyer, so I have no idea if he broke any law in that exchange, but it’s highly damaging politically, and forces the Trumps to concentrate on dealing with this new scandal instead of focusing on running the government.

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