Amanda Taub writes: President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. initially defended his meeting with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign by saying that it was primarily about adoption — a seemingly innocent humanitarian issue.
Reinstating American adoptions of Russian orphans certainly seems like a far less serious matter than a meeting about, say, the removal of United States sanctions on certain Russian officials.
But from the Russian perspective, whether the younger Mr. Trump and his associates knew it at the time or not, the issues of adoptions and sanctions are so inextricably linked as to be practically synonymous. (Mr. Trump said in a later statement that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had also promised to give him compromising information about Hillary Clinton.)
Understanding the connections between adoptions and sanctions offers a lens into the worldview and foreign policy goals of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and into how even a meeting that really did focus primarily on adoption would also have been about much more. [Continue reading…]