Dear Donald, Jr.
I’ve been meaning to write you, pal.
Deep down, I always have felt a certain amount of sympathy for those who are in dire straits, particularly those who do not seem to realize how deep and treacherous those straits are. I suppose if I can help someone less fortunate than I am, I owe it to the planet's ethical ecosystem to give it a shot.
I mean, you Trumpsters must be way down in the dumpsters, man. Every day somebody flips. You might have been expecting Michael Cohen to go pancake on you, but Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s CFO? David Pecker, who’s got that scary catch-and-kill safe at the National Enquirer? And while White House Counsel Don McGahn did not "flip," I don't think he needed thirty hours of testimony with Mueller to say "no problems here at the White House -- all good!"
Heck, I half expect to turn on CNN and find out Melania is wearing a wire. At least that would explain the message on that jacket.
Last week, what counted for good news at the White House was that the Manafort, Cohen, and "flipper" stories temporarily took Omarosa off the cable news circuit. I emphasize "temporarily." She's got books to sell and more tapes to play.
So Junior, feeling for you as I do, I am going to begin with a far, far more charitable assessment of your current predicament than just about any of my blue state, liberal, fake-news, deep-state friends would ever cut you.
I don't think you even knew you were committing a Federal crime.
Hey, you were just a guy brought up in the real estate business in New York City, and then one day somebody told you that you were one of the most senior guys in a campaign for President of the United States. I have a hunch that you didn’t do a whole lot of homework on your new role.
So when you got an email from a Russian national promising wicked badass dish on Hillary Clinton, you did not know that taking a meeting would already be a violation of Federal law. You didn’t call up any lawyers to get their take, because you had no idea whatsoever that there could be anything illegal about it. You just jumped up and down with excitement because you knew that you had stumbled onto something that was sure to please dear old Dad.
No, I don’t think that you intentionally broke the law. That would have required knowing the law, and, for that matter, having respect for the law. Neither are known to be a long suit in your household. My bet is that when you got that email from the Russkie, you couldn’t wait to let everybody in the Tower that you had landed a big scoop. That you were the stud reeling in the big phish. Not that smarmy gas-bag Paul Manafort. And certainly not Jared, that brother-in-law who Dad clearly seems to think is smarter than you are. I mean, damn, Dad asked Jared to fix all the world’s problems, and you were told to go back and pretend that you were running Trump Enterprises. Daddy likes Ivanka best, and you may be his second favorite, but only because Eric looks like such a loser.
So you couldn’t wait to let Daddy know about the potential gold mine of filth on Hillary, and he was mighty interested to hear about it. When you told him. Before the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
I hate to say this, Junior, but Daddy appears to have set you up right from the beginning. I can just hear him. “Wow, Donny-Boy! You really hit the jack-pot with this one! Proud of you I am! Why don’t you call Paul and Jared and take the meeting. See what you find out. I’m, uh, busy that day, so you guys go ahead without me.”
You see, Junior, your Daddy has a keen sense of smell for turd piles, and he knew from the beginning that he shouldn’t be caught in meetings with Russians. So what does he do? Apparently, he did not say, “Son, you must consult a lawyer before you take that meeting.” He knew enough to stay away, so it would have been, well, fatherly of him to suggest that you check into the legal logistics of meeting with representatives of hostile foreign governments about information to be used to sway election results before you lined up the catering service.
But, no, he didn't do that. He told you that you’ve earned the right to pilot this particular kamikaze flight. You’re in charge, my son. So proud of you. Set the flaps for crash and burn.
But you were feeling pumped up kicks because Dad was so juiced about your coup. On June 7, 2016, your Daddy actually alluded to the big meeting you had planned for June 9 in a major campaign speech. Yes, two days before your Trump Tower meeting, he said this in a major public campaign speech:
“I am going to give a major speech on — probably Monday of next week — and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative, and very, very interesting.”
Spoiler alert: that “major speech” never happened. I guess now you know why.
So you went ahead and you rounded up Manafort, Kushner, and you took the meeting. I think you know the rest. Shit bullseye on fan. The stories coming out of the White House are changing faster than diapers at a Huggies test center, and they are every bit as messy.
It was a meeting about adoptions. Uh, actually no, it was not. On second thought, it was about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, but we didn’t get any, so what’s big deal? Besides, it was not illegal to take that meeting because we had no idea she was even Russian, let alone a representative of the Russian government. Oh, she was a representative of the Russian government??? Who says that? Oh, it said that in the original email? Anyway, the President had nothing to do with the White House statement that said the meeting was about adoptions. Well, he may have – c’mon, what Dad wouldn’t help his son out with some punctuation and grammar? It’s not like he actually dictated that release. Never! Wait, hold on. We’re getting new information. What? He did dictate that statement? Oops! Ok, scratch that denial, too, he did dictate that memo. But nothing matters, because nothing came out of the meeting! It never went anywhere, so we are totes cool! Nothing! Um... hold on. I am getting new information. Ok, may I rephrase that? "To the best of my knowledge," nothing came out of the meeting...
Junior, can I translate this for you, or should I just point out the skid marks from the bus tires left on your backside?
First, your Dad is telling people that you never told him about the Trump Tower meeting. In his August 5 tweet -- supposedly a defense of his “wonderful” son -- your father took enormous pains to make sure that the buck stops with you. He ended the tweet with an extremely emphatic "I did not know about it." It’s your meeting, Donny. So if someone ends up going to jail because of that meeting, who exactly does your Dad think it should be? “I did not know about it.”
Your Dad has made clear to you that he expects absolutely unwavering loyalty from you. That means that he expects you to tell Robert Mueller that you never told your Dad about the meeting before it happened, and never told him about any follow-up from the meeting. If either of those statements is not true, he expects you to take responsibility for them. Not him.
I once saw a video in which you were recounting a story from when you a very young boy. In that story, you recall how your father once told you that you should never trust anyone. Then, as you recount then story, he said "Do you trust me, your own father?" And you of course said yes, that you did trust him. He then scolded you for trusting him: "What did I just tell you? You didn't take the lesson."
There you have it, Donny-Boy. It made a big impression on you. Perhaps because it was the one time that your father told the truth. Even you, his son, should not trust him.
Junior, you are a grown man. You have to open your eyes and see where this is going. Mueller is flipping your Dad's cronies like pizza dough, and he is closing in on you and Jared. Once he and New York State have you both on an wide array of federal and state crimes, your fate will be out of your hands. If you are counting on a pardon, you might want to finally consult a lawyer. Your Dad can't pardon the New York State crimes that Weisselberg and Cohen are chirping about, and if you get pardoned for Federal crimes, you no longer have the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself. You'll have to testify to the truth, or risk perjury charges. And, by then, your Dad may no longer be in office to pardon you all over again.
And if you have any doubt that Mueller has the goods on you, just go back and read your Dad’s tweet from August 5… you know, the one where he allocutes on your behalf and acknowledges that you met with a hostile foreign government with the intent of illegally gaining “something of value” for use in the campaign. Then go read the statute. Boy, it will be tough to plead not guilty when the President of the United States has provided State’s evidence against you.
Some day -- maybe not that far in the future -- the DOJ may well make a visit to your Daddy to say, “Mr. President, we have a great deal of evidence that you have engaged in bank fraud, money laundering, illegal campaign contributions related to payments intended to influence that outcome of the 2016 election, conspiracy to work with a hostile foreign government to undermine the 2016 election, and obstruction of justice. Moreover, we’ve got a strong case that your son and your son-in-law are guilty of crimes that could result in their spending the next two decades in federal prison." Wouldn't it be so much irony if Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein then closed the deal: "Mr. President, if you agree to resign your office immediately, we will not file the charges against members of your family.”
That’s when your father is going to decide who goes to jail. You. Or him.
Donny, you were probably puzzled when you read the first paragraph of this letter and I said that I felt an obligation to help who were “less fortunate than I am.” No doubt with all the golden toilet fixtures in Trump Tower, your assumed I must have vast wealth to make such a claim.
That’s not what I meant.
What I meant was that most Americans, by virtue of their family, their church, their community, and their schooling reach adulthood with guideposts for principled, ethical behavior and for playing by the rules. By those measures most Americans are infinitely more fortunate than you. We are given all the input we need to enable us to make our own decisions, informed by moral, ethical, and societal standards. I’m not saying that everyone makes every decision perfectly, but most of us were given the input we need to weigh decisions in light of those standards.
Through no fault of your own, you were not. Your father generally does not know legal from illegal or right from wrong, and in those rare cases that he does, he is inclined to chose illegal and wrong because he thinks cheating gives him a competitive advantage.
So you need advice about how to navigate the very dangerous waters that lie ahead, perhaps from someone who isn’t named Trump, owned by Trump, controlled by Trump, or lackey to Trump.
Your father is a corrupt, soulless, amoral cheat, but that’s not the part that bugs me. What bothers me is that he appears to be ready to flush his flesh and blood down the toilet to save his own butt. It seems to me that he has already communicated what his choice will be when it comes to saving his skin or yours. I urge you to re-read that August 5 tweet one more time.
Remember that June 7 speech, Junior? How elated you were that your Dad was pumped up about your big June 9 meeting, and just couldn’t wait to see the dirt you’d be getting on Hillary?
He knew about the meeting, Donny. You told him about it.
You may soon be asked about this exact issue under oath.
When they ask what you know, do the right thing. Tell the truth. That’s all the advice you need.
Because this will be different from the day you got the original email about meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary.
The difference will be, Donny, that this time you do know that it is a Federal crime to lie under oath. Like I said, I’ll cut you the slack for last time. But this time you'll know you are breaking the law.
You’re in a very tough spot. This may have all started out as your father's mess, but now you have your very own pile. You own it.
Not your Dad. You.
I promise you: he is looking out for himself. Perhaps it is time for you to do the same.
From where you sit now, doing the best thing for yourself is to do the right thing.
And while no one may have explained what the "right thing" is while you were growing up, now you know.