Politics & Government

Bush Sr.’s letter of advice to his family widely shared following Trump Jr. scandal

President Bush addresses the nation on television from the Oval Office in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 1989.
President Bush addresses the nation on television from the Oval Office in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 1989. AP

After news surfaced of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, some defended the actions of the president’s son by saying he simply hadn’t known better.

Now a letter that shows how another political family handled possible future calls of nepotism and improper dealings is being widely shared.

Former President George H.W. Bush sent the letter in May 1988 to the junior Bush, who was working on his campaign at the time. It was also shared with the rest of the Bush family, and was clearly written for all of them.

He said the family would be subject to “microscopic probing,” and warned them against new friends who would ask them for favors.

“My plea is this: please do not contact any federal agency or department on anything,” Bush Sr. wrote. “A call from a ‘Bush’ will get returned, but there is a great likelihood that it will be leaked; maybe deliberately misrepresented.”

He told the family to forward any legitimate inquiries to his office, “so no one can accuse any of the family of trying to use influence.”

Bush Sr. admitted that he probably sounded “very defensive” and “preachy,” but that it was necessary – as issues within the Trump family have illustrated.

Trump Jr. posted emails he exchanged in advance of a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after an investigation by the New York Times. The emails, sent in June 2016, show he was told the meeting would include information on Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump’s opponent, as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. has said the actual content of the conversation focused on adoption policies and the woman did not have any information on Clinton.

President Trump, while saying he did not know about the meeting, has defended his son multiple times.

“That’s very standard in politics,” Trump said. “Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information, and I think the press made a very big deal out of something that really a lot [of people] would do.”

The Bush Sr. letter has surfaced before, both during the election and after Trump was elected. But it received much more attention than before in light of the Trump Jr. scandal.