In a move that was so bizarre it stood out as suspicious even by Trumpian standards, Donald Trump Jr formally gave up his Secret Service protection, only to reinstate it a week later. His originally stated reason for giving it up: privacy. His story now: he was on a hunting trip in a remote part of Canada. Except that not one word of his story adds up.
To be clear, Donald Trump Jr really did go hunting in Canada during the period of time in question. We know this now, because a New York Times reporter traveled to Yukon Territory and tracked him down in person (link). But that’s where things stop making sense. If he had simply wanted to be able to go hunting without the cumbersomeness of Secret Service agents being along with him for the hunt, he could simply requested that they remain back at the lodge. Formally giving up his status as a protectee, in a way that didn’t come across as being temporary at the time, would have been massive overkill. Then there’s the absurdity of how he tried to explain it.
The Times reporter in question asked Junior what he had killed during his hunt. He refused to answer, instead saying that “It was a good hunt.” He was asked if it was a moose. He refused to say. If Junior were smart and self-aware, that could have been interpreted as him not wanting to admit he killed anything specific, because he’s faced backlash in the past for lording over the animals he’s murdered. But this isn’t smart or self-aware. He’s the kind of idiot who couldn’t figure out how to pull off a simple meeting with a Russian attorney without it turning into a criminal scandal.
This comes across as something entirely different. Donald Trump Jr seemed to be afraid to answer a simple question about his hunting trip because he was afraid of letting slip other details of his trip. Did he secretly meet with Paul Manafort or Sergey Kislyak in Canada? Was the hunting trip just a cover? That might be an absurd suggestion in normal context. But there’s nothing normal about the president’s son giving up his Secret Service protect to run off to Canada for a simple hunting trip, only to reinstate it a week later. This story keeps getting more strange, and more malevolent feeling, by the day.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report