If the future president’s elder son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.
He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”
Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.
Read the rest at the NYT link above.
If this isn’t the smoking gun, what would be?
Two more stories to check out at the Times:
It’s amazing how many journalists and TV commentators are still questioning whether the Trump folks actually committed crimes. The Trump crime family is completely screwed. The only question is how long it will take for Mueller to take them down.
Some Twitter reactions:
On the legal issues:
On the legal issues:
Democratic and Republican lawyers and political operatives alike say explanations about the June 2016 meeting from President Donald Trump’s oldest son are way out of step with common campaign practices when dealing with offers for opposition research.
But perhaps far more important, his statements put him potentially in legal cross hairs for violating federal criminal statutes prohibiting solicitation or acceptance of anything of value from a foreign national, as well as a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Politically, by discussing such a sensitive topic that could prove embarrassing if revealed, Trump Jr. and the other Trump campaign officials in the room for the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, including Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, may have also exposed themselves to future blackmail threats, the legal experts said.
Those potential troubles deepened Monday night with a fresh New York Times report alleging that Trump Jr. was sent an email before his meeting with Veselnitskaya indicating the information she had was part of a Russian plan to boost his father in the race against Clinton.
Don Jr. has lawyered up.
Trump Jr. has hired New York criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas as his personal attorney for Russia-related matters, Futerfas told POLITICO. On Monday, the president’s son sought to quell the political firestorm by criticizing media coverage about it and insisting that what he did was not unusual for someone in the midst of a presidential campaign. He also emphasized that the meeting “went nowhere.”
On Monday night, Futerfas responded to the most recent report saying it was “much ado about nothing” and adding that “the bottom line” is that Trump Jr. did “nothing wrong.” ….
But legal experts of both political parties say his explanations may not fly if he’s questioned under oath by Congress or Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia — and where perjury and making false statements carry legal consequences that don’t exist when engaging with reporters or on social media.
“I don’t think that is an out,” said Robert Bauer, a former White House counsel under President Barack Obama and the Democrat’s 2008 campaign attorney. “If they accept the meeting on the understanding that they will be offered something of value — the opposition research — they are sending a clear signal that they would like to have it.”
More legal opinions at the link.
The Washington Post: The latest Russia revelations lay the groundwork for a conspiracy case.
Collusion is usually defined as a secret agreement to do something improper. In the criminal-law world, we call that conspiracy. If unlawful collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals did take place, criminal conspiracy would be one of the most likely charges.
A conspiracy is a partnership in crime. The federal conspiracy statute prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States, which includes conspiracies to impede the lawful functions of the federal government — such as administering a presidential election.
Conspiracy also prohibits agreements to commit another federal crime. This would include an agreement to violate the laws against hacking into someone else’s computer, or to violate federal election laws.
Conspiracies, by their nature, take place in secret. To break through that secrecy, prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence. The classic trial lawyer’s metaphor is that each such piece of evidence is a brick. No single event standing alone may prove the case. But when assembled together, those individual bricks may build a wall — a big, beautiful wall — that excludes any reasonable doubt about what happened.
That’s why this latest news is a big deal. The meeting helps establish a few critical facts. The first is simply that contacts between Russians and campaign officials did take place. If you are seeking to prove a criminal partnership, evidence that the alleged partners had private meetings establishes the opportunity to reach an agreement.
Read more at the WaPo.
Also note that Congressional investigators know a lot more than what has been publicly released. The Hill: Top Intel Dem warns Trump Jr.: We have more intel than what public knows.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the committee has much more information about the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election than what has been reported publicly.
“There’s an awful lot more [intelligence] than that’s even in the public domain,” Schiff said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
One more and then I’m going to post this so we can use it as a live blog.
Joan McCarter at DailyKos: What did Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell know about Trump/Russia collusion and when did they know it?
While the clear evidence that the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election unfolds, don’t forget that this did not happen in a vacuum. Don’t forget that congressional leadership knew in 2015 that Russia was trying to hack the Democratic party.
Don’t forget that the CIA was giving confidential briefings to leadership with information “indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later, former government officials say.”
The classified briefings that the C.I.A. held in August and September for the so-called Gang of Eight—the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and the Senate and of the intelligence committees in each chamber—show deep concerns about the impact of the election meddling.In the briefings, the C.I.A. said there was intelligence indicating not only that the Russians were trying to get Mr. Trump elected but that they had gained computer access to multiple state and local election boards in the United States since 2014, officials said.
Here’s what CIA chief John Brennan told then Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid in a private, classified briefing: “Russia’s hackings appeared aimed at helping Mr. Trump win the November election,” and that “unnamed advisers to Mr. Trump might be working with the Russians to interfere in the election.” It’s too incredible to believe that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not get that same briefing, did not know that the CIA had solid enough intelligence that the Russians could possibly be in the Trump campaign, trying to influence the outcome of the election.
In September, intelligence officials had a secret meeting with the Gang of 12—including the House and Senate leaders and the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security. That meeting was intended to get leadership behind a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” publicly condemning Russia for interference.
As we all know, Mitch McConnell blocked the release of this damning information to the public.
What are you reading and hearing? Please update us in the comment thread, and keep lots of popcorn on hand!