Politico reports: It’s far from clear whether Trump Jr. will end up facing any charges related to his meeting, but several lawyers said there is plenty of fodder for investigators to look at.
“This is treason,” Richard Painter, a former George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer, wrote Sunday night on Twitter. “He must have known that the only way Russia would get such information was by spying.”
Painter added in another message: “In the Bush administration we could have had him in custody for questioning by now.”
Jennifer Taub, a white-collar attorney and Vermont Law School professor, posted on Twitter a 20-part message Monday that cited a specific section of the U.S. criminal code that Trump Jr. may have crossed concerning prohibitions on conspiracy to defraud the U.S. “Potential indictments are coming into clear focus,” she wrote.
Former Bill Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn said Trump Jr.’s meeting to discuss opposition research during a campaign “is not in and of itself illegal.” But Quinn nonetheless said it “will be a subject of exploration by Mr. Mueller.”
Norm Eisen, a former chief White House ethics attorney, called the Trump Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer “very unusual” and cited several parts of federal criminal statute that may have been breached, including the Logan Act, a 1799 law barring private citizens from interfering with diplomatic relations between the U.S. and foreign governments. The law has been enforced only once — more than 200 years ago — but still remains a potent political cudgel.
“In decades of working on campaigns and as an election lawyer, I have never personally witnessed or authorized anything like this,” Eisen said. “In a normal campaign, this would be the most crimson of red flags and would not be undertaken without counsel and candidate consent, which raises the question of whether Trump himself had any indication of this.”
Eisen also said the Trump Jr.- Veselnitskaya meeting raises questions about whether “the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help in the form of dirty tricks; if so, that could confer conspiracy liability for any Russian cyber or other crimes that followed.”
GOP and Democratic campaign operatives said Trump Jr. wasn’t practicing the typical behavior one does when dealing with potential opposition research.
“Running @marcorubio camp lots of random people asked to meet to share “secret oppo” I was just never dumb enough to meet w/ them #ButWeLost,” Terry Sullivan, the former campaign manager for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 GOP primary campaign, posted Monday on Twitter.
Republican strategist Stuart Stevens also posted Sunday night on Twitter about the unusual nature of the Trump Jr. meeting. “When Gore campaign was sent Bush debate brief book, they called FBI. If foreign interests offer you info on former SOS, you call the FBI,” he wrote. [Continue reading…]