Monday, July 10, 2017

Collusion: “Deceitful or Unlawful Agreement” That Donald J. Trump Jr. Sought

Trump’s Troika Met with Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya 
(Or: Vasilnitskaya both ways pronounced the same) 

Brief Background of the Russian Lawyer

PERSONAL NOTE: Before you read the following story and update, I think a quick (2-minute) video reminder of how this story broke and the actual statement from Donald J. Trump Jr. about that meeting is in order – so, here it is: 

CNN Report and Donald J. Trump Jr.'s Statement

MAJOR UPDATE ON THIS FAST-MOVING STORY:  Specific details from the NY TIMES here in part with this headlines:

Russian Dirt on Clinton? “I Love It” Donald Trump Jr. Said

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The email was written by a trusted intermediary who wrote in part: “[The documents] would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.
Wow that last part is astonishing – he email writer’s view or knowledge and if so, how high in the Russian government are we talking about?
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.
Don Jr. 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 the “Russian government attorney.”
Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss) and my brother-in-law, Jared Kushner,” (who is now one of the president’s closest White House advisers).
On June 9, the Russian lawyer was sitting in the younger Mr. Trump’s office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below the office of the future president. About that meeting Don Jr. had three choices: (a) Question the Meeting, (b) Report it Immediately to Campaign Lawyers – nope, Don Jr’s answer was not (a) or (b) but (c) for this his first, incredible-on-its-face explanation that in the midst of a presidential campaign that the top brass paused for a meeting “primarily” about adoption of Russian children — was instead: “Hey, come on down! Arms open.
Don Jr was wrong. Why? One must always be careful about dealing with “political dirt” since it can rub off on you – the collector of such “dirt.” Recall that in the 1988 presidential campaign, two top aides to Michael Dukakis resigned over the leaking of a videotape that helped bring down rival Joe Biden over a cribbed stump speech.
Additionally, one must always want to be careful about mixing foreigners and political campaigns. All this was also slightly before WikiLeaks poured out DNC and Podesta emails that was alarming to say the least of the growing reports since of Russian involvement in the election.
Trump Jr.’s second statement does not specifically state that he knew in advance that the mystery guest at the meeting — Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin — would be Russian. But that seems a fair presumption given that Trump Jr.’s relationship with the intermediary stemmed from their dealings in Russia.
And here’s why that’s not just a political problem but a potential legal one. As Democratic election law expert and former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer has noted, federal election law prohibits soliciting or accepting “anything of value … in connection with” an election from a foreign national. Bauer raised this issue this in connection with Donald Trump’s public solicitation of and cheering for Russian assistance on WikiLeaks and Clinton’s emails.
The admission of direct contact on a campaign issue takes that analysis a significant step further. Would damaging information about Clinton be something of value to the Trump campaign? Trump Jr.’s false and misleading statements on his involvement with Russians add to the argument that this is a man behaving as if he had something to hide. Asked by the New York Times in March whether he had ever discussed “government policies related to Russia,” Trump Jr. replied, “a hundred percent no.”
Confronted again by the Times about the Veselnitskaya meeting, Don Jr. first said the participants “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” The next day he acknowledged it concerned opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. asserted in a tweet Monday: “There was no inconsistency in [my] statements. The meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s, I simply provided more details.”  So, he was just being helpful in omitting the pesky and barely relevant Clinton part. Now he is happy to clarify, however, this is a serious matter and for the president and those around him, a potentially perilous development.
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Note on the Introduction to this Very Important Story: Donald J. Trump Jr. did not disclose the following details of a meeting he had held with a Russian lawyer when it was made public by the New York Times on Saturday (July 8) – he only did so the following day as the Times prepared to report that he had been offered information on Hillary Clinton campaign at the session (he skipped over to talk about).
The Story: Donald J. Trump Jr. said in his Sunday (July 9) statement that a Russian lawyer, Natalia Vasil-nits-kaya, with whom he met in June 2016 claimed she could provide potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. said he agreed to the meeting at Trump Tower because he was offered information that would be helpful to the campaign of his father, who was then the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Odd connection: Jared Kushner and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. Vasilnitskaya opened by saying she knew about Russians funding the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. said that her comments during the meeting were “vague, ambiguous and made no sense” and that she then changed the subject to discuss a prohibition that the Russian government placed on the adoption of Russian children as retaliation for sanctions imposed by Congress in 2012 and if Trump would he help lift the sanctions. Donald Jr. said that his father “knew nothing of the meeting or these events” and that the campaign had no further contact with the woman after the 20- to 30-minute session.

Updated: Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, White House's newest PR mouthpiece said there's no there there... yeah sure.
Key: Donald Jr. went there to obtain “dirt on Hillary Clinton and her campaign” and even though there was none – the lawyer’s pretext to talk to Trump Jr. about the U.S. lifting the “adoption’s sanction (ban)” (her real motive it seems) does NOT in any way excuse his belief or desire to obtain harmful information to Hillary Clinton –
In short: Donald Jr. was willing to work with the Russians and accept the information to harm Hillary Clinton had there been any information, thus, his intent is clear.
She has been a leading advocate to lift the Magnitsky Act sanctions on Russia for their human rights abuses. The act is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died under mysterious circumstances in a Moscow prison in 2009 after exposing a corruption scandal. She said she never acted on behalf of the Russian government and that the meeting included no discussion of the presidential campaign.
What we have with Donald Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya are two serial lairs.
As they say, this pile of Trump-connected deceit and greed is growing daily.
Stay tuned is all I can say.

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