No Collusion? Or GOP Treason?
The GOP report does address that Trump Tower meeting, allowing that it showed “poor judgment” on the part of the Trump campaign. As we learned from Trump Jr.’s emails, those top Trump campaign officials went to the meeting in the full expectation of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton, supplied by the Russian government. But the GOP report brushes this off, concluding there was “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
But the Democratic response fills in some extremely important context — and it may involve the president himself, though we cannot know one way or the other right now.
According to the Democratic response, right after Trump Jr. set up the specifics of the meeting, he had two calls with a number in Russia belonging to Emin Agalarov. Between those two calls, the Democratic response recounts, Trump Jr. received a third call from a blocked number. Who might it have been?
Democrats wanted to find out, but Republicans blocked it from happening, according to the Democrats’ response. “We sought to determine whether that number belonged to the president, because we also ascertained that then-candidate Trump used a blocked number,” Schiff said during our interview. “That would tell us whether Don Jr. sought his father’s permission to take the meeting, and [whether] that was the purpose of that call.” Schiff added that Democrats asked Republicans to subpoena phone records to determine whose number it was, but Republicans “refused,” Schiff said. “They didn’t want to know whether he had informed his father and sought his permission to take that meeting with the Russians.”
Trump has denied he knew or heard about the meeting. So naturally, any investigator would want to find out if Trump Jr. spoke to his father at the very moment he was arranging the meeting.
Again, we don’t know who made that third call. But if Trump Jr. did inform his father of the meeting in between calls with Emin Agalarov, it would be absolutely explosive news. First, it would mean the president has lied about his knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting. Second, it would show he was an active participant in a manner of speaking, though he wasn’t in the room.
If the Democratic response is accurate, what we know is that Republicans didn’t want to find out one way or the other. “It speaks to all the majority was determined to ignore, and the fundamental unseriousness of what they did,” Schiff said.
There is at least some reason to suspect that Trump may have known about the meeting. As the Democrats point out in their response, on June 7, the day after Trump Jr.’s conversations to set up the meeting, Trump told a crowd: “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
The Trump Tower meeting happened two days later, and didn’t produce the promised dirt — and the “major speech” never took place.
The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election. But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.
Ms. Veselnitskaya also appears to have recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview to be broadcast Friday by NBC News, she acknowledged that she was not merely a private lawyer but a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general.
Rep. Adam Schiff lays out some evidence for collusion and this is new:
Russians sought to establish a secret back channel with Trump campaign through NRA in May 2016 according to an email from Paul Erickson to Rick Dearborn & Jeff Sessions. They sought to make “first contact” at the NRA convention.