The President’s oldest son is in a spot of trouble. During the 2016 campaign he was promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Russia lawyer who has known ties to the Kremlin.
- Meeting took place on June 9, 2016 – two weeks after Trump secured the Republican nomination.
- DTJ knew his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer about allegedly damaging information about Hillary Clinton was part of a Russian government attempt to help Trump win the presidency
- White House aides are rushing to defend Donald Jr’s actions as routine and appropriate.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller will be examining the legal consequences.
The president’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended this meeting. Although President Trump has been dogged by accusations of collusion with Russia, this is the first time that confirmed reports have emerged that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.
So far it is not clear whether the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, actually provided any compromising information about Clinton, although Trump Jr. himself confirmed the expectation that she would do.
That Donald Trump Jr. took this meeting, and lied about its subject matter to the New York Times may be the glittering object of the moment; but a far bigger problem for Donald Trump now is that Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were there.
Mr. Kushner is a high-level government employee with a top-secret security clearance, and has the largest portfolio of international relations responsibilities of anyone in history who was neither a President or Secretary of State. He did not disclose this meeting on his security clearance application, a direct violation.
Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and the revelation of this meeting and its high voltage subject matter imperils the veracity of the never-ending “no collaboration” mantra that the White House and its apologists constantly churn out.
Step back a moment and consider. Nixon was rightly chased from office for far less than is likely here.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Donald J. Trump, in part by stealing and then providing to WikiLeaks internal Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails that were embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton. WikiLeaks began releasing the material on July 22.
He said he was told she “might have information helpful to the campaign,” and that in the meeting, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton”.
“No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information,” he said. Which means at least that he took the meeting on the hopes that he would
“I don’t think you had to go very far, respectfully, to find damaging information or negative information about Hillary Clinton. She was a gusher at all times of negative, damaging information,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Good Morning America.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters later Monday in an off-camera briefing that “there was simply no collusion.”
“The president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election,” Sanders said. “No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.”
“The only thing I see inappropriate about the meeting,” Sanders said, “was the people that leaked the information on the meeting after it was voluntarily disclosed.”
On Sunday morning on Fox News, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, described the Trump Tower meeting as a “big nothing burger.”
The smoking gun
Donald Trump Jr., after first stating that the subject of his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer was international adoptions, now states that he went to the meeting expecting to receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. already stated that he asked for his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the head of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, to attend his meeting. Given these facts, how has he done anything but acknowledge the very essence of the troubling concern that the Trump campaign sought to create back channels to the Russian government during the course of the general campaign in order to obtain information to use against Clinton?
Whether or not Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort actually received intelligence concerning Clinton at the meeting his irrelevant, as Trump Jr. went to the meeting in expectation of obtaining such information.
That so many months after this investigation began, the Trump family still haven’t publicly released this information suggests an Administration that is unwilling or unable to get ahead of this story. That suggests they still believe they can hid the truth of what transpired during the campaign or they are extraordinarily inept at the basics of crisis management.
If the Special Counsel Mueller was looking for the smoking gun in the collusion between Russian operatives and Trump and his campaign they are not going to get too many hotter than this one. This one comes with the fingerprints of Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Jr. who has taken it upon himself to certify its authenticity on all the TV networks.