Donald Trump, Jr.’s Mafia-Style Defense
When it first came to light, Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in 2016 was called a harmless conversation about adoptions. Trump’s supporters said that the discussion was solely about the program for American adoptions of Russian orphans that Vladimir Putin ended in 2012 in retaliation for US punitive action against Russia.
How touching to learn that Donald Trump, Jr., and the Trump administration held such deep concern and compassion for American families who wished to bring immigrant children to America.
But alas, this explanation wasn’t true.
Later, fearing that contrary evidence would surface, Donald Trump, Jr. came somewhat clean — and admitted that the rendezvous was about obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton that the Russian lawyer was dangling. What choice, Trump asked, did he have but to pursue this “political opposition research?”
Eventually the dazzling, changing number of Trump staffers and Russians at the meeting grew to reach a total of eight.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the meeting last week, Donald Trump, Jr. issued a statement confirming his revamped story, while casually dismissing the seriousness of the meeting: “I believed that I should at least hear them out.”
This eyebrow raising account is reminiscent of classic parodies of Mafia-style defenses.
In one case, a Mafia lawyer defending his client explains: “My client was standing innocently on a street corner in Brooklyn eating an apple — with an ice pick — when this jerk comes running around the corner and runs into the ice pick — four times, backwards.”
Mafia lawyer: My client couldn’t have committed the murder. He wasn’t even there.
District Attorney: We have five witnesses who saw him there.
Mafia Lawyer: If he was there, he was an innocent bystander.
District Attorney: The witnesses saw him pointing a gun and pulling the trigger.
Mafia Lawyer: If he did shoot, it was in self-defense.
Now an example featuring Donald Trump, Jr. and Russia:
Trump, Jr.: I didn’t meet with the Russians.
Interviewer: But we have witnesses who saw you in a room with Russian operatives.
Trump, Jr.: If I was in a room with them, it was coincidental –but I had nothing to do with them.
Interviewer: The witnesses say they saw you talking to the Russians.
Trump, Jr.: If I was talking to them, I was just being courteous and cordial.
Interviewer: But the witnesses overheard you talking about Russia/US relations.
Trump, Jr.: If I was talking about Russia/US relations, it must have been about the high price of caviar.
If Trump, Jr. had said that, at least it would have been an admission that something fishy was going on.
Otherwise, welcome to the Trump world of “alternative facts” and “opposition research.”
Will the next Trump family building project be a high-rise luxury prison — the greatest prison ever?
Bernard Starr holds a PhD in psychology from Yeshiva University in NYC and is a professor emeritus at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. He is also a past president of the Brooklyn Psychological Association and the Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy. His latest book is “Jesus, Jews, And Anti-Semitism In Art: How Renaissance Art Erased Jesus’ Jewish Identity & How Today’s Artists Are Restoring It.”