Someone Gave Al Gore 'Dirt' On George Bush. Here's What His Campaign Did.
Tom Downey was a former congressman, but in September 2000, he was working as an actor. He had been hired by Al Gore's presidential campaign to play the role of George W. Bush in their debate rehearsals.
One day, he received a package express from a phony address in Austin, Texas. Inside, he discovered a videotape of George W. Bush rehearsing for the upcoming debate.
What did Tom Downey do? Did he watch the whole thing and take notes? Did he show it to Gore, or senior campaign officials? Did he destroy it and never tell a soul?
No. Once Downey realized just what was on the tape, he took it to his lawyer, who promptly turned it over to the FBI. It may seem quaint now, but way back in the year 2000, some things were still sacred - and debate preparation was apparently one of them.
Karen Hughes, a spokeswoman for then-candidate Bush, expressed veiled concern that the outgoing Clinton administration might pressure investigators against pursuing the leak. "We hope the FBI is being allowed to thoroughly investigate, to do their job," she said.
Meanwhile, in 2017, Republicans are at a loss to explain why Donald Trump, Jr., the president's eldest son, was so willing to accept the kind of help Downey wasn't - and from the Russian, government.
No anonymous source sent Donald Jr. unsolicited information about Hillary Clinton. His own e-mails show that he knowingly, gleefully made a date with a woman described as a "Russian government attorney" who claimed to have incriminating evidence about his father's rival.
So what did Donald Trump, Jr. do? Did he forward the e-mail to a lawyer? Did he contact the FBI? Did he come forward with this information at any point in the past year when he realized that it might have national security implications?
No. Instead, he told a series of lies about his Russian contacts, then released the e-mails pertaining to the meeting only moments before The New York Times published a story that reveals their contents anyway.
Contrast that behaviour with Tom Downey, who immediately gave the Bush tape to the FBI. The Gore campaign recognized that incident for what it was: a disturbing attempt to "affect the voters." They had the good sense and decency not to play along with it.
So when Republicans say that anybody would have done the same thing in Donald Jr.'s place, they are objectively, factually wrong.
The legality (or illegality) of Donald Trump, Jr.'s actions should be left to the lawyers. But what we're talking about here is morality, which is even more important.
To anyone reading this who maybe likes President Trump and dislikes Al Gore:
Can you seriously hold a campaign you supported to a lower standard than one you didn't, and keep a straight face?
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