Legal Creep and Moral Fortitude (Part 2)

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Let’s add one more voice to the Trump administration’s story about Russia. Mike Pence was asked about contacts between Russians and the Trump administration by Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday on January 15, 2017. Here is the content of that exchange:

Wallace: “I’m asking a direct question: Was there any contact in any way between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or contacts they had?”

Pence: “I joined this campaign in the summer, and I can tell you that all the contact by the Trump campaign and associates was with the American people. We were fully engaged with taking his message to make America great again all across this country. That’s why he won in a landslide election.”

Wallace: “… if there were any contacts, sir, I’m just trying to get an answer.”

Pence: “Yes. I — of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign? Chris, the — this is all a distraction, and it’s all part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of this presidency. The American people see right through it.”

The Facts 

On June 3, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid reporter and music publicist. The email said the “Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Donald Trump Jr. responded by writing “…I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”

Let’s take note of what transpired here. The “Crown prosecutor of Russia” offers to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Donald Trump Jr. was delighted to hear about the documents and took steps to learn more about them. This means Donald Trump Jr. had knowledge of the who, the Crown prosecutor of Russia, and the what, incriminating documents about Hillary Clinton, of the meeting. It seems that Donald Trump Jr. saw these documents as having some value when he wrote, “especially later in the summer.” This phrase specifies a time when this information can help the campaign.

To be clear, the emails say the purpose of the meeting is to bring together a Russian attorney and Donald Trump Jr. in order to reveal information that could cast Hillary Clinton in a negative light so that the American people would not vote for her. This correspondence amounts to an effort by Russians to interfere with our election. Donald Trump Jr., and as we’ll see, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner coordinated a meeting with a Russian official to obtain documents that would, in effect, further the aims of the Trump campaign and Russia.

Rob Goldstone said the documents are “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” How could Donald Trump Jr. interpret this portion of the emails as anything other than confidential information Russia obtained by illegal means?

Apparently, the men set up the meeting with only the subject of incriminating documents as the topic to be discussed. Here are the emails that support this claim:

7 June 2016
Goldstone to Trump Jr
Hope all is well. Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday. I believe you are aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you? I assume it would be at your office.

Trump Jr to Goldstone
How about 3 at our offices? Thanks Rob appreciate you helping set it up.

Goldstone to Trump Jr
Perfect … I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3pm and introduce you etc. I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.

Notice again, how Rob Goldstone explicitly states the meeting will be attended by the “Russian government attorney.” If this is not enough, Rob Goldstone’s subject title of the emails was “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”

Who else will attend the meeting? Donald Trump Jr. writes,

Trump Jr to Goldstone
Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law [Jared Kushner] and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.

So, campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were scheduled to meet with the “Russian government attorney.” In fact, both men were cc’d in the email sent on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 titled “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.” You can see this information in the original emails Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out. Is it reasonable to believe that Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner had no knowledge of what the meeting was about or who they were meeting?

On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.


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