Tall tales by Team Trump about the Russian lawyer meeting suggest a cover up.
In June 2016, Donald Trump, Jr. arranged the now-infamous “Russian Lawyer Meeting” where Junior, along with Donald Trump’s top campaign brass, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, a “former” Russian spy with expertise in acquiring hacked emails, and an alleged Russian money launderer.
Further, although not publicly confirmed, several intelligence community sources have suggested that Trump himself dialed into the Russian Lawyer Meeting and that the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) has recordings of this meeting (SIGINT).
As predicted, the Russian Lawyer Meeting is a key focus of multiple, ongoing investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and the House Intelligence Committee. (Notably absent is the only committee with the power to start impeachment hearings: the House Judiciary Committee, headed by Rep. Bob (Not-So) Goodlatte.)
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Regardless of whether Trump called in, the Russian Lawyer Meeting is extremely problematic for Trump and his team, who face serious allegations that include conspiring with Russia to hack the election and taking illegal campaign donations from Russia. And “coincidentally,” the Russian Lawyer Meeting entailed Junior and top Trump campaign brass meeting with a Kremlin tool, a “former” Russian spy with expertise in obtaining hacked information, and an alleged Russian money launderer.
Not surprisingly, Team Trump has tried desperately to keep the Russian Lawyer Meeting a secret. In fact, no one disclosed the meeting until Kushner submitted an updated version of his national security clearance form (SF-86) on June 21, 2017, over a year after the Russian Lawyer Meeting took place, and 6 months after Trump took office. Even more troubling, Kushner filed three updates to his original SF-86 security clearance form that he first submitted in mid-January, and only disclosed the Russian Lawyer Meeting on his fourth version of his SF-86, despite that fact that falsifying an SF-86 form is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison!
In addition to Kushner “forgetting” to disclose the Russian Lawyer Meeting on his SF-86 in the face of potential felony charges, Junior and his father, Trump, have offered shifting statements about the purpose of the meeting, which were subsequently proven to be false.
March 2017, Junior Statement #1: in an interview with the “failing” New York Times, Junior denied having set up meetings with Russians. Junior also denied having ever discussed U.S. government policy regarding Russia, saying, “A hundred percent no.”
July 8, 2017, Junior Statement #2: When the New York Times broke the story of the Russian Lawyer Meeting, Junior’s initial statement claimed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “adoptions” (meaning U.S. sanctions on Russia), emphasizing that this wasn’t a campaign issue.
A few weeks later, the “Amazon” Washington Post” reported that Trump himself personally dictated Junior’s false statement, while flying home aboard Air Force One from the G20 summit, where Trump had held several meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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According to the Post, Hope Hicks, then-White House director of strategic communications, and Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Kushner and Ivanka Trump, met with Ivanka, Kushner and Kushner’s lawyers during breaks at the G20 meeting. Kushner and his team pushed for a transparent response by Junior, including sharing his emails that had not yet been publicly revealed, because they believed that more details of the Russian Lawyer Meeting would eventually be uncovered.
Instead, Trump overruled and decided that Junior’s statement should describe the meeting as “unimportant.” Trump then dictated Junior’s statement to Hicks, which was proven untrue the very next day.
July 9, 2017, Junior Statement #3: The day after breaking the Russian Lawyer Meeting story, the Times reported that Junior was promised damaging information (kompromat) on Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with the Kremlin-connected lawyer. In response, Junior changed his story and admitted that he agreed to the meeting because he thought that the Russian lawyer would give him Clinton kompromat, but “she had no meaningful information.” He added that the lawyer “turned the conversation to adoption” (sanctions) and claimed that the promise of Clinton kompromat was just a “pretext” for the Russian Lawyer Meeting.
July 10–11, 2017, Junior Statement #4: The New York Times breaks another story on the Russian Lawyer Meeting and reports that Junior learned in advance of the meeting via email that the Clinton kompromat promised to him was “part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.” The Times then published the email exchange between Junior and Rob Goldstone (Junior also posted images of the emails on Twitter). Goldstone’s initial email to Junior stated that the Clinton kompromat included “official documents” as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Junior’s reply to Goldstone was, “I love it especially later in the summer.”
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In response, Junior changed his explanation for the Russian Lawyer Meeting yet again. Junior, his lawyer, and his father, Trump, spun it as Junior trying to obtain opposition research as part of any normal campaign, an assertion that is beyond belief.
Taking a page out of his father’s book, Junior tweeted that his statements weren’t inconsistent, because the Russian Lawyer Meeting primarily discussed “adoptions” (sanctions).
Junior also posted a sarcastic tweet, drawing a false equivalence between opposition research (normal part of a campaign) and getting Clinton kompromat provided by the Russian government as part of its ongoing support for his father’s campaign (not normal at all).
Not to be outdone, his father later tweeted that “most politicians” would have attended the Russian Lawyer Meeting to get dirt on an opponent, saying “That’s politics!”
Incredibly, Junior’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas confirmed his client’s intent to get Clinton dirt from the Russian lawyer and added, “In my view, this is much ado about nothing.” So even Junior’s lawyer believes that it’s “nothing” that Junior met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer with the intent of getting official documents of Clinton kompromat from the Russian government as part of its ongoing support for Trump’s campaign!
What world do these people live in?
September 7, 2017, Statement #5: In Junior’s opening statement at his interview by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Junior shifted his story to a completely different explanation, coming up with the (ahem) creative excuse that he arranged the Russian Lawyer Meeting to assess Clinton’s “fitness” for office, stating, “To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out.”
Junior added, “Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration,” suggesting that Junior may have known that receiving Clinton kompromat from Russia could place him in legal jeopardy.
Just hours after Junior met with the Senate Judiciary panel, the office of committee member Senator Coons emailed the media the U.S. statute that outlines punishments for lying or withholding information from Congress.
Senate Judiciary Committee member and former federal prosecutor, Sen. Blumenthal, didn’t buy Junior’s shifting explanations for the Russian Lawyer Meeting, saying that Junior’s testimony “left more questions unanswered than he answered. There were gaping holes…which is why we need to have him come back in public under oath.” Blumenthal added that the Russian Lawyer Meeting “signaled to the Russians we (the Trump campaign) are open for business, we’re ready to deal.”
As of today, Junior has said that they discussed adoptions (sanctions) and Clinton kompromat at the Russian Lawyer Meeting. Next thing you know, Junior will claim that he was trying to obtain a cure for cancer at the meeting!
Not surprisingly, Special Counsel Mueller appears to be focused on the Russian Lawyer Meeting, and a D.C. grand jury recently issued subpoenas in connection with the meeting. Further, Mueller now seeks to interview White House aides, including Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, who were aboard Air Force One when Trump dictated Junior’s initial “misleading” statement about the Russian Lawyer Meeting.
Meeting attendee Rinat Akhmetshin, the “former” Russian spy and hacking expert, said that the Russian lawyer gave Clinton kompromat to Junior. And Paul Manafort’s notes of the meeting contained a reference to political contributions and “RNC” (presumably, the Republican National Committee).
There is still much to learn about the Russian Lawyer Meeting. What else was discussed, besides adoptions, sanctions, Clinton kompromat, and illegal donations to the RNC? Hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC)? Did Trump dial in? Does Mueller have SIGINT (recordings) of the meeting?
What we do know is that Junior, Trump, Kushner, and Manafort were desperate to cover up the Russian Lawyer Meeting.
And we also know that Mueller and his “Justice League” of high-powered attorneys are working tirelessly to uncover the truth.
About the author: Dr. Dena Grayson is medical doctor (MD), biochemist (PhD), and former Democratic candidate for Congress. Dr. Grayson is married to progressive champion and former Congressman Alan Grayson. Follow Dena Grayson on Twitter: @DrDenaGrayson