Kelly Anne Conway and Donald Trump Jr have both used the “no harm, no foul” excuse in relation to the recently disclosed meeting between Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with a Russian attorney. Because the Russian attorney failed to deliver derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, as Trump apparently had expected, they say “nothing to see here, move along”. No harm, no foul.
I’m not sure that applies to politics. It’s a term that came from basketball. While politics bears a strong resemblance to many contact sports (think mud-wrestling, MMA, etc.), it is not a sport. It is how we manage our country. Think about a potential bribe that is not delivered because the FBI intervenes. Does the case get thrown out because the action the bribe was meant to bring didn’t happen? No harm? Or someone trying to buy explosives to bring down a building but is prevented by good police work. No foul?
This meeting is not evidence of illegal activity but it continues to show the judgments of the Trump campaign that anything goes, that business as usual means running up against the fringes of legal and ethical behavior, that there is no difference between campaigns dealing with foreign governments vs friends in American operations. It is also deeply disturbing that the campaign thinks that just because there was no useful, negative information about Clinton that it was ok to meet with a foreign representative and explore the possibility.
Most disturbing is the operating mindset of the Trump campaign that led so seamlessly to a casual meeting with representatives of the Russian oligarchy by members of the US oligarchy with no thought about the national issues involved. This seems to be the greatest betrayal of Trump’s voters yet. More to come on this subject.