shoe already dropped

Shoe Drops and the Smoking Gun is a composite image created for

For months, there has been smoke; thick, black smoke that cannot be seen through. It certainly seemed like the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, something seemed suspicious, but there was never any proof. But no smoking gun.

For weeks, there has been a very warm gun. Meetings between Flynn, Sessions, Page, Kushner, etc…with Russian officials that had conveniently been forgotten. But no smoking gun.

Yesterday, on July 9th, the New York Times found out that gun was hotter than had previously been known. According to reporting by the New York Times on July 9th, in June of 2016 members of the Trump campaign met with a lawyer that had Kremlin ties to try to obtain information that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign. These “members of the Trump campaign” were not low-level staffers or aides, they were people at the highest levels. Donald Trump Jr., who is, as you might guess, the son of Donald Trump. Jared Kushner, the boy-wonder who has never truly accomplished anything yet he has been placed in charge of seemingly everything. Paul Manafort, one-time Trump campaign manager and the only person who is more pro-Putin than Trump. The Trump administration and the three aforementioned individuals have tried to play this meeting off by saying that they had no idea who this person was, what they wanted to talk about, or whether it was important. All of those lines are worthy of rebuttal, but it is worth taking a look at the timeline of denials that has accompanied this now infamous meeting.

In the beginning, all members of the Trump campaign and administration denied ever meeting with Russians, blanket denial. Then when it came out that they had indeed met with this Kremlin connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the story shifted to saying that they were only discussing the Magnitsky Act. Then on July 9th, after reporting from the New York Times saying that he met with Ms. Veselnitskaya to obtain information to use against the Clinton campaign, Donald Trump Jr. finally admitted the real reason why he went to the meeting. It is also worth noting that at first the Trump team downplayed the importance of this meeting, they tried to make it seem almost trivial. However, one must ask themselves if the son, son-in-law, and campaign manager, would all attend a meeting less than 6 months before the election if they truly did not believe that said meeting would be important.

This meeting seems to play into a theme of selective amnesia among Trump campaign, transition, and administration officials when it comes to Russia. They always seem to deny any meetings, at any time, and they deny them vehemently. Then, the New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal will break a story saying that they did in fact meet with a certain Russian linked official and they will confess to it. Jared Kushner is perhaps the best example of this. He has now, on three separate occasions, forgotten to mention meeting with Russian officials on his SF-86 disclosure form. It is truly such a shame that someone so young seems to be facing something akin to an early onset of Dementia. The same can be said for Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions, both officials who held or still hold high office in the government. J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, two campaign officials never appointed to anything in government, have also been caught in this lie. The line of defense has always been that they simply forgot, however, at some point a pattern emerges and it ceases to be accidental and starts to take on a malevolent, intentional edge.

This meeting between Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner was already substantively damaging, optically atrocious, and morally abhorrent. A shoe had already dropped; these three individuals were willing to take information from a lawyer that was linked to the Kremlin in order to hurt Clinton. On the evening of July 10th the New York Times dropped the other shoe: “Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy…” Rob Goldstone, one of the people who helped set up this meeting, is the author of said email.

Donald Trump Jr. knew that the information he was about to receive was from Russian efforts to help swing the election. Upon learning that the Russian government was the source of this information and that they were now actively interfering in our election, what was his response? Did he do what anyone with a sense of patriotism would have done and report it? No. Did he do what anyone with a sense of morality have done and decline. No? Did he just not respond? No. He still attended the meeting. In fact, he enthusiastically attended the meeting, excited about the possibility of gaining information harmful to his American opponent from a Russian attack operation. This is the clearest evidence presented yet that shows collusion. He was aware that the information he was about to receive, or hoped to receive, was from the Kremlin and their attempt to elect his father. Senior Trump officials colluded with Russia. The Trump campaign colluded with a government that kills journalists. The President of the United States of America colluded with an entity that has been involved in the assassination of countless political opponents and dissidents.

Donald Trump cannot survive this; he will become too politically toxic for Congressional Republicans to continue to defend. When he is impeached, this will be at the heart of it. The importance of these two stories cannot be overstated. The New York Times has just dropped the two heaviest shoes since the breaking of Watergate and their impact will make history and bring down a presidency.

We have the smoking gun.

Image: Shoe Drops and the Smoking Gun is a composite image created for – Chromed handgun on black background with smoke © dimjul; Closeup of cigarette on ashtray with a beautiful wisp of smoke © nomadsoul1; - Pile of various female shoes over white © photobac – all licensed at 123RF Stock Photo using the generous contribution of readers like you.

Matt Blakely

Matt Blakely is a political consultant and strategist based in Atlanta, Georgia. He focuses on Democratic campaigns and progressive causes.

  1. Jeffry Scott

    I think we’ve yet to get the real smoking gun (the reference to the Nixon tape where he and Haldeman talk about getting the CIA to obstruct the FBI investigation of Watergate), but this one at least has fingerprints on it. If took more than two years to force Nixon’s resignation after countless lie after lie after lie from everybody in the Nixon White House and Republicans defending him to the very end (they caved within days of the release of the “smoking gun” tape in July 1974). This email exchange is confirmation they TRIED to collude, although you could argue, even considering the information from the Russians was colluding. And the U.S. Government has, sad to say, orchestrated more than a few killings of foreign leaders in the decades since WW II. So, we can’t preach from much of a perch. I would like to see Trump run out of town on a rail tonight. So I’m with you in spirit. But, in fact, we’ve got a ways to go. Good work.

    1. All true. I should have been more clear that I do not think that the story as it stood then, with all that we knew as of July 10th, will be what brings him down. I think it will be where this story leads, because as with everything Trump related, we are only at the tip of the iceberg. For instance, just this morning NBC broke that the meeting was not just between Kushner, Manafort, Jr, and Veselnitskaya, but that there was also an ex Soviet intelligence officer there and an unnamed third Russian. So I think this story is the “smoking gun” in the sense that what was discussed in this meeting (which we will find out), who else was there (which seems to be an ever evolving answer), whether Trump himself knew, and other incriminating emails/meetings Don Jr could have had, are the smoking gun and that we will find all of those answers because of this original story.

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