Junior's e-mails

Jul 12, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

Trump the Younger gives the latest example that our love affair with social media is risky

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a big issue out of rival Hillary Clinton's e-mails and how public disclosure of them regarding issues of controversy and importance to the election was highly desirable, even vital, for the American people.

That opinion may be coming back to haunt him now. The tables have turned.

Surely there is no need here to go through the details of the developing story about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with someone from Russia. The national media horde has that part covered.

The younger Trump has provided many of those details himself by sending out copies of the e-mails that he had sent and received leading to this meeting, which in retrospect has become explosive.

He says nothing came of the meeting, which might well be true. But the public does now know that he was tantalized into going to the meeting because he believed he would learn damaging information about his father's rival for the presidency.

That subject - Russian interference with the election - is, you might say, a hot topic right now.

How do we know Trump Jr. did it? Because of e-mails. Not hers, his.

It might not matter very much whether Junior Trump, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and the Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, got the "dirt" on Hillary that they thought they might get when they went into that meeting. They say they didn't.

More important could be the fact that they went there at all with this expectation, and that they promised, repeatedly, that they had never taken such a meeting. One of them, Kushner, had to swear to it under federal oath.

Donald Trump Jr. is one of the younger generations of Americans to have grown up in the era of online communication and social media. During the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy, it was at least plausible that a woman of her age - nearing 70 - simply didn't understand the ramifications of using a private e-mail server for public messaging. It will be hard for the president's son to defend himself a similar "oops" basis, or for others to.

He should have known better, and that statement applies both to agreeing to this meeting in the first place and feeling, somehow, that these careless e-mail practices would, or could, be secure.

In the realm in which the Trumps operate - lots of publicity, lots of controversy all the time, public relations firms, spokesmen and publicists, yachts, private jets, penthouses and expensive lawyers - this may not come to much of anything for them personally. They are masters at changing the subject.

For the rest of us, however, it is another cautionary tale. In our rush to demand and embrace these forms of split-second, yet traceable and leakable, communications, we have raced far ahead of ourselves in understanding the implications and ramifications of all this instantaneousness. By the time we realize that the consequences have overwhelmed the convenience, available remedies have dwindled.

In this regard, every American with a smartphone has something very much in common with the billionaire president's son.

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