Last night Donald Trump Jr., a person of such high quality that his own father recently referred to him as “a high-quality person,” went on Hannity. The ostensible purpose of this appearance was to defend himself in light of his remarkable self-owning yesterday, when he posted to Twitter four pages of emails that detailed his knowledge of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But it also served as an intriguing case study in how the Trump team plans to confront these allegations, and also how the elder scion of the Trump fortune might fare beneath the gale-force winds of Hannity’s scrutiny.
In short, not well. Fox News’ pull-quote for the interview is “I probably would’ve done things differently,” making this appearance seem like a rare admission of guilt from within the golden first family. In actuality, it takes him almost seven minutes to utter this sentence. Trump’s first couple of responses are a sort of constant cycle of shrugs, each sentence leading into yet another shrug, the sort of routine a kid uses to talk their way out of detention. Hannity hits him with his first right hook—the journalism textbook staple, “This email comes in. What are you thinking?”—which he responds with a series of equivocating comments about how busy he was. It’s classic Trumpian “I’m a simple businessman” logic as an excuse for unscrupulous actions, here stretched to the breaking point to also include treason.
Hannity manages to go the whole interview without using Trump’s most damning quote from the email—that is, the response, “I love it”—but when it is alluded to by Hannity, Trump doubles down with another shrug and an “Of course!” He goes on: “Someone sent me an email. I can’t help what someone sends me. I read it, I responded accordingly.” Here “accordingly” does not mean notifying the FBI that a rival nuclear power is attempting to influence the outcome of our election, but instead getting to that meeting at a time that is politically convenient, like, say, late summer.
Hannity, for his part, leaves this response unchecked, moving on to such hard-hitting queries as “Did you ever think maybe this might not be… ?” and “Let me ask you a hypothetical. Did you ever meet with any other person from Russia that you know?” the latter of which is not a hypothetical, but to which Trump nevertheless responds, “I don’t even know.” At this point you may begin to feel weightless, floating into the meaningless ether of pure Trumpian post-fact abstraction.
Anyway, it’s fun to watch Fredo do his tough-guy thing while clearly in some hot shit—he’s smart, Mikey, he’s not dumb—and even if nothing comes of this scandal it’s good to know that even when they get caught dick-out and mid-treason the Trump administration will continue acting like they’re just innocent, feckless billionaires angrily fumbling into this whole politics thing. The video is also worth watching to see Hannity attempt—and fail—to pronounce the phrase “Magnitsky Act.”