Donald Trump Jr. (AP/Alec Tabak)

Donald Trump Jr. was skewered by Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and even Anderson Cooper last night

Donald Trump Jr.'s legal troubles were the source of fierce smirking throughout the media earlier this week


Matthew Rozsa
August 7, 2018 7:36PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump is currently insisting that his son's June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Kremlin-connected lawyers to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton wasn't illegal, while others are speculating that either the meeting or his subsequent denials may have broken certain laws, according to The New York Times. While those thorny legal questions have yet to be worked out, however, one matter is certain: The media is having a field day mulling over Trump Jr.'s ongoing misfortunes.

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After noting that President Trump had tweeted 48 times between Friday and Sunday, Colbert zeroed in on a tweet in which Trump denounced a story about him being worried about his son's legal fate as "Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower."

"Wonderful son Donald? So he has two sons named Donald?" Colbert quipped. He added, "It's like someone saying 'my wonderful disease, ulcerative colitis."

He then went on to read more of Trump's tweet in which he proclaimed that the Trump Tower meeting was "totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!"

Colbert reacted to this with his signature Trump impression.

"Okay, totally legal. Actually great! Everybody does it! I wasn't there! Put my son in jail!" Colbert joked, before noting that "the biggest takeaway from this tweet is that he's straight-up admitting that this was a meeting with representatives of the Russian government to get information on an opponent . . . also known as collusion."

He added, "Remember, when news of the meeting first came out last year, the official story was that it was primarily about the adoption of Russian children. And now we know that it was primarily about Russian adoption in the same way that 'Silence of the Lambs' is primarily about lambs."

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Jimmy Kimmel was equally scathing in his characterization of the meeting.

"Yesterday — I don’t know if you if you were following this over the weekend —  he thumbed a doozy. One that could potentially land his son in prison," the ABC late-night host observed, according to the transcription from Deadline. Like Colbert, Kimmel pointed out that Trump had contradicted his earlier story in which he claimed that the Trump Tower meeting had been primarily about Russian adoptions.

"That is all very interesting to Robert Mueller, because DJTJ originally said the meeting was about adopting Russian children.  The President himself dictated that explanation last year," Kimmel told his audience. "Now he says, in writing, on Twitter, that the meeting with the Russians was to get information on an opponent.  Also known as ‘collusion.’ It’s nice that, even on vacation, the president manages to find time to incrimi-tweet his son. His wonderful son."

Then came Kimmel's zinger.

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"Not since Robert Durst in 'The Jinx' has a defendant done such a good job of convicting himself publicly," Kimmel told his audience.

He added, "And I have to say — I love it, I really do — I like to imagine his lawyers’ faces when they see a tweet like this. I bet they carry pillows to scream into."

READ MORE: Right-wing talk show host Joe Walsh tells Salon: Donald Trump "betrayed his country"

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Even CNN's Anderson Cooper couldn't suppress a few chuckles as he went into detail with the numerous ways in which the Trump team has tried to spin the story about the Trump Tower meeting: First by Trump Jr. denying that he had ever met with Russians, then by claiming that the meeting had been about Russian adoptions (which Cooper pointed out is a code term for the Putin regime trying to shake off sanctions) and finally by acting like even if the meeting had amounted to collusion, that still wouldn't be a crime.

When Cooper began his monologue, however, he couldn't avoid ridiculing a report that Trump's advisers had to warn him not to tweet anything about his ongoing legal travails.

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"Now perhaps this should be obvious to most people being investigated for something: Don't tweet about that something," Cooper opined. "It's like 'Fight Club' but with Twitter and Russians. CNN has learned that this is the seemingly obvious piece of advice that President Trump is now getting from some people around him, 'Do not tweet about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.'"

He added, "This is the meeting that was first concealed and then, once it came to light, was quickly surrounded by a stonewall of misleading statements, obfuscations, false equivalency and outright falsehoods, lies. It's been crumbling ever since — now, with the help of a single presidential tweet."

After reading the tweet, Cooper started laughing.

"Now before going any further, we should just say this last bit — that he did not know about the meeting — is now in question, with sources telling CNN that Michael Cohen is apparently ready to testify that he did in fact know, which would contradict Don Jr.'s sworn testimony to Congress," Cooper told his viewers. While it's easy to make light of Donald Trump Jr.'s legal problems — and satisfying too, given that the only reason Trump Jr. has any political power at all despite his blazingly obvious lack of qualification is that his father is Donald Trump — there is a sobering subtext to all of this. For months, Trump Jr. was able to successfully convince supporters of his father that his meeting at Trump Tower had been totally innocuous. Anyone in the media who questioned that narrative was accused of being hyper-partisan. Now it is clear that Trump Jr. did in fact meet with those Kremlin-connected lawyers in Trump Tower in order to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton. The president has admitted this himself. This means two things: First, that the original claims to the contrary were lies; and second, that accusations about the Trump campaign working with Russians are true. The seeming stupidity that got Trump Jr. into this bind may be humorous, but the larger implications about the fate of democracy are not funny at all. "

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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