Trump Jr. may have crossed the le­gal line

“Can­not ben­e­fit from a for­eign ad­ver­sary in this ... sce­nario”

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Am­ber Phillips

The New York Times re­ported — and Don­ald Trump Jr. ap­peared to con­firm — that he agreed to a meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer who had dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on Hil­lary Clin­ton af­ter get­ting an email that the Rus­sian govern­ment was try­ing to help his fa­ther win the elec­tion.

“It’s as close as you can get to a smok­ing gun” of whether the Trump cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sia, said Jef­frey Ja­cobovitz, a white-col­lar lawyer who rep­re­sented of­fi­cials in the Clin­ton White House and now is with Ar­nall Golden Gre­gory LLP. And it could mean Trump Jr. crossed the le­gal line on col­lu­sion with Rus­sia.

First, a re­fram­ing of the way we think of col­lu­sion. Col­lu­sion ac­tu­ally is a po­lit­i­cal term; there’s no line in the crim­i­nal code that says you go to jail for col­lud­ing with a for­eign ad­ver­sary.

But you can go to jail for con­spir­ing with a for­eign ad­ver­sary to in­flu­ence or un­der­mine an elec­tion, and Ja­cobovitz thinks what Trump Jr. did, as doc­u­mented by emails he him­self shared on Twit­ter, could rise to that level.

“Ab­so­lutely,” Ja­cobovitz replied when asked if these emails firm up ev­i­dence Trump Jr. had in­tent to com­mit a crime by con­spir­ing with the Rus­sians. “You may have crossed the line on con­spir­acy to com­mit elec­tion fraud or con­spir­acy to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion from a for­eign ad­ver­sary,” he said. “You can­not ben­e­fit from a for­eign ad­ver­sary in this kind of sce­nario.”

In the email, Trump Jr. as­so­ciate Rob Gold­stone tells Trump Jr. that Rus­sian of­fi­cials “of­fered to pro­vide the Trump cam­paign with some of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion that would in­crim­i­nate Hil­lary and her deal­ings with Rus­sia and 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.”

What spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller and his team of a dozen or so prac­ticed in­ves­ti­ga­tors are likely look­ing for is ev­i­dence that the Trump cam­paign in­tended to con­spire il­le­gally with Rus­sia to help their cam­paign and hurt Clin­ton’s. (Rus­sia is also known for trick­ing peo­ple into do­ing its bidding.)

The fact that Trump Jr. took this meet­ing while be­ing told what the Rus­sians were up to is as clear as in­tent can get, Ja­cobovitz said.

“If he re­ceived an email in ad­vance say­ing ‘This is com­ing from the Rus­sian govern­ment,’ he’s cer­tainly knowl­edge­able about where the in­for­ma­tion is com­ing from,” Ja­cobovitz said. “And he at­tempts to at­tend a meet­ing with the hope and in­tent to ob­tain in­side dirt on Hil­lary Clin­ton. That would go a long way in try­ing to de­ter­mine whether it’s con­spir­acy . ... It’s not as if he walks into the meet­ing and he’s sur­prised by what he’s hear­ing.”

An­other piece of ev­i­dence to stack up in the “in­tent” col­umn: Why were two of Trump’s top cam­paign aides also in­vited to the meet­ing? Trump Jr. says Trump’s then-cam­paign man­ager, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, also would be there to meet with the Rus­sian lawyer. It sug­gests that the Trump cam­paign put a very high pre­mium on the meet­ing.

Also worth not­ing: Trump him­self has drawn a line in the sand of what col­lu­sion means to him, a def­i­ni­tion he may come to re­gret. Es­sen­tially, the pres­i­dent has said, col­lu­sion is know­ing about some­thing go­ing on il­le­gally and not do­ing any­thing about it.

Un­der that def­i­ni­tion, it ap­pears the Trump cam­paign rock­eted past its own def­i­ni­tion. It’s not nor­mal, and it may not even be le­gal, to meet with a for­eign ad­ver­sary ex­pect­ing dirt on your op­po­nent.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.