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Trump goes on the offensive after senator suggests Trump Jr lied

Trump's effort to defend his son against allegations of possible criminal misconduct is to ... change the subject.
Image: Republican National Convention: Day One
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18: Donald Trump Jr. listens to a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans...

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was on the show last night, largely to talk about his new bipartisan legislation that would require Special Counsel Robert Mueller -- and any future special counsels -- to release a public report detailing the findings of a completed investigation. Rachel asked a related question about witnesses who've testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose sworn statements were sent to Mueller and his team.

Not surprisingly, the Connecticut Democrat said he's not allowed to provide that information publicly, but Blumenthal nevertheless said something that raised a few eyebrows.

"...I can tell you this much: I was in the room when a great many of these witnesses appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee behind closed doors. I think many of them should be called back to testify in public and I hope that will be true of other congressional committees, as well."Because behind closed doors, there arose in my mind very clearly questions -- serious issues -- concerning their truthfulness. And that issue pertained particularly to Donald Trump Jr. in a number of his contentions before our committee. So I think this common thread of lying to Congress and particularly to congressional committees may ensnare a number of other potential targets in the special counsel's investigation, and become a matter of criminal action."

This wasn't exactly subtle. Blumenthal heard Donald Trump Jr. testify -- under oath -- and the senator was left with concerns about the witness' "truthfulness." It was in the next breath that Blumenthal raised the prospect of seeing "potential targets" of federal law enforcement face criminal scrutiny.

And it was about eight minutes later that the president himself decided to respond.

"How does Da Nang Dick (Blumenthal) serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Donald Trump Sr. wrote last night, "when he defrauded the American people about his so called War Hero status in Vietnam, only to later admit, with tears pouring down his face, that he was never in Vietnam. An embarrassment to our Country!"

Let's unpack this a bit. First, as the president should know after having launched this attack several times before, Blumenthal spent years in the Marine Corps Reserves, but he was not deployed overseas during the war in Vietnam. In 2010, the senator said he served "in" Vietnam, rather than "during" Vietnam, and when called on it, he apologized.

He never claimed "war-hero status," and there was no event in which there were "tears pouring down his face." Trump appears to have made these details up, just for the heck of it.

Second, given what we know about Cadet Bone Spurs' record during this period, Trump probably should find something different to whine about.

But even putting these relevant details aside, note the inherent weakness of the pushback. Blumenthal raised the possibility of the president's son lying under oath to Congress during an investigation into the Russia scandal, to which the president responded by pointing to an event nine years ago in which Blumenthal mischaracterized his military service.

In other words, Trump's effort to defend his son against allegations of possible criminal misconduct is to ... change the subject.