Back on September 18, you might recall a rather bizarre story about Donald Trump, Jr, the oldest son of the president. According to a report in The New York Times, we learned that Junior suddenly and without explanation declined his Secret Service protection sometime during the week before the story broke on the 18th.
My first reaction was the obvious one. It’s a serious violation of national security for the first born son of Donald Trump to go it alone without anyone between him and, say, ISIS kidnappers or worse. Beyond his own personal safety, the abduction or murder of a presidential family-member would put the commander-in-chief, whose judgment is already erratic and deeply flawed, in a position where he could be blackmailed or goaded by his own rage and distress to do something unimaginable, possibly involving bombs.
In fact, there was a scene about such an event in a first-season episode of The West Wing that expertly forecasted what could happen in the event a member of the First Family was snatched by evildoers.
Suffice to say, we definitely wouldn’t want this to transpire with a real life President Bartlet, given his TV reaction, and we absolutely wouldn’t want a crisis of this nature with Trump in the Oval Office, with the nuclear football, his Twitter app, and a Rolodex of international leaders available at his stubby fingertips.
Nevertheless, Junior didn’t want his protection (for some reason), and so that was that. CNN reported that the Secret Service “strongly pushed back on his request,” but Junior insisted upon going it alone.
All of that said, the crisis appears to have been averted because exactly one week later, on Monday, September 25, we learned that Junior’s Secret Service protection was reinstated. Again, no explanation was provided for ditching his protection other that “privacy,” and no explanation was given for Junior’s change of heart about protection.
Was there an incident that triggered him to reconsider? Or was it something more sinister?
Well, it turns out Junior apparently went hunting in the Yukon where, I don’t know, maybe Secret Service agents are the Bumble Snow Monster’s favorite food? Who knows.
The New York Times Magazine reported:
On the evening of Sept. 14, a man who looked an awful lot like Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the president of the United States, boarded Air Canada Jazz Flight AC 8889 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He made his way down the aisle of the Bombardier CRJ 900, found his seat, 17A, in the economy cabin, then settled in for the 923-mile flight to his final destination, Whitehorse, in Canada’s Yukon Territory. He was carrying a camouflage backpack, but he checked some other luggage at the beginning of his journey, two cities earlier, at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
A shorter older guy and a younger man, around 20, accompanied Junior on the flight. Reports indicate that the two companions probably weren’t Secret Service. Good assumption given that he ditched his protection.
The author of the story, Luke Dittrich, followed Trump’s son to the Yukon where Junior said he went hunting. It goes without saying that if a Times reporter was able to track down Junior while in transit, it’d be just as easy for enemies of the United States to do the same. Gratefully it didn’t happen that way.
Later, Dittrich introduced himself to Junior at the airport on his way back to the States.
“Hey,” I said. “I’m Luke.”
I held out my hand, and he shook it.
“I’m Don,” he said.
I told him that I heard he was in the area, that I was with The New York Times Magazine and that I’d love to talk to him about his trip.
“The Times,” he said. “I never know where you guys are coming from.”
I asked if he bagged anything.
“I can’t really tell you that,” he said. ‘‘Let’s just say it was a good hunt.’’
Was it a moose?
“I can’t … look, I can’t say.”
(It was a moose. Big one, too.)
Dittrich and Junior chatted off-the-record after that, so it’s unclear what, if anything, was clarified about the trip.
Why wouldn’t Junior talk about what he “bagged” on the trip? It makes sense to ask, especially given his history of clandestine meetings with, say, Russians. And why would it be a problem for Junior if at least one Secret Service agent tagged along on such a mundane hunting trip?
Hell, at the end of the day, it might’ve been just what it appeared to be. Occam’s Razor would lead us to that conclusion. But the absence of a requisite entourage of federal agents adds a layer of suspicion, given how his Secret Service protection was reinstated days later without explanation. Naturally, then, we have no choice but to wonder whether Junior met with someone more nefarious than a big ass moose that he summarily executed just to watch it die — someone who the Secret Service might object to on numerous grounds. And if he met with someone on the trip, was that person’s name spelled with Cyrillic characters?
As Rachel Maddow likes to say: watch this space…