President Trump praised his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., for releasing a batch of personal emails Tuesday showing he agreed in 2016 to meet with a woman who claimed she was a Russian government official with dirt on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
"My son is a high-quality person, and I applaud his transparency," the president said Thursday through White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Though it's nice the president is sticking up for his family — you can't say the same for everyone in the nation's capital — it's silly to suggest Trump Jr. dumped the emails to be transparent.
The New York Times was made aware recently of a 2016 email exchange between Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a publicist who acted as a go-between for a Russian lawyer. The Times has been reporting snippets of those emails, which show Trump Jr. agreed to meet with a supposed Russian government official to discuss the presidential election.
The paper contacted Trump Jr. this week for clarification on a specific detail. This seems to have convinced Trump's eldest son that the Times planned to release everything from his 2016 email exchange with Goldstone.
Trump Jr. decided Tuesday to preempt the paper's pending report, and he tweeted four separate screengrabs showing his entire email conversation with the British publicist.
Trump's son released his emails only after he decided the Times was likely publishing additional details from his conversations with Goldstone. That's not transparency. That's damage control.
Also, it has to be noted that Trump Jr.'s email dump came after he had already gone on record telling several conflicting versions of events. Trump's son has maintained at different times that he never met with Russian contacts, and he has also said he never tried to set up meetings with them. These emails suggest otherwise.
It's good that we have these emails out in the open so we can read them and judge for ourselves. But let's not kid ourselves and suggest Trump Jr. released them out of a desire to be transparent. Come on now.
Commending him for Tuesday's email dump reminds us of when people applauded the Times for issuing a correction after it accused former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of inspiring the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting.
Grown adults don't deserve praise for simply telling the truth.
We're reminded again of Robert Redford's great 1994 drama "Quiz Show."
Near the film's conclusion, Charles Van Doren, played by Ralph Fiennes, confesses at last to being complicit in a conspiracy to rig a game show in his favor.
"I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception. I have deceived my friends, and I had millions of them. I lied to the American people," he admits during his testimony before Congress.
The congressional panel responds immediately with gushing praise for Van Doren's honesty.
"Mr. Van Doren, I want to compliment you for that statement," said committee Chairman Rep. Oren Harris, D-Ark.
Another congressman adds, "Mr. Van Doren, I just want to add my kudos. I have listened to many witnesses in both civil and criminal matters, and yours is the most soul-searching confession I think I have heard in a long time."
But then, Rep. Steven Derounian, R-N.Y., chimes in with a bucket of cold water.
"Mr. Van Doren … I'm happy that you've made the statement, but I cannot agree with most of my colleagues," he said. "See, I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth."
Like Van Doren, Trump Jr. doesn't deserve praise for simply, and at long last, telling the truth.