Trump publicly invited Russian hacking.
Trump said he didn’t know Putin and that he condemned Russian hacking.
However Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race. That’s not my count. That’s current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges who gave the information to Reuters.
This contradiction of Trump regarding his ties to Russia is something he has repeatedly done many times, over the last few years. In fact CNN documented 81 times Trump himself has spoken about his ties to Russia.
At least as early as the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, Trump has at least nine times claimed to have spoken to, met, or made contact with Putin.
“I never met Putin,” Trump said at a July 2016 news conference. “I don’t know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin.”
Here is Trump giving directly contradictory statements about Russia.
Even more important than simply meeting Putin is Trump’s financial dependency on Russian investment in his businesses. At a real estate conference in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. confirmed that the Russian money was “pouring in” to the Trump business.
“And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” he said.
Now Donald Trump Jr. has confirmed that there is support for the allegation Trump involvement with Russia. On Saturday, Trump Jr., presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort confirmed that they met with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. That was just two days after Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.
Trump Jr. said in a statement Sunday that Veselnitskaya claimed “she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.”
So now that we have Trump Jr.’s admission of a meeting with a Russian who purported to have information that Trump could use against Hillary, the question is whether the fact of such a meeting could be criminal? Regardless of whether the meeting was productive or not, was it wrong to try to get information from Russia that might affect the outcome of the election?
THE ANSWER IS UNQUESTIONABLY YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ten lawyers queried, including academics, former prosecutors, and defense attorneys familiar with federal election and hacking laws, cite more than a dozen federal statutes that prosecutors could use to charge someone who collaborated with Russian intelligence to influence the 2016 election.
“There is a whole plethora of areas of potential criminal liability,” says Tor Ekeland, a defense attorney who has represented clients in high-profile hacking cases in federal and New York courts. “To say that there is none is just willful ignorance in the service of propaganda.”
What charges special counsel Robert Mueller might eventually level depends on specific circumstances and evidence collected. But laws against abetting or conspiring to commit computer fraud or identity theft and against solicitingcampaign aid from foreign nationals offer two potential areas under which prosecutors could seek indictments, the lawyers say. Prosecutors also could use broader federal statutes related to honest services fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to bring charges against anyone who colluded, according to the attorneys.
Just one example of such a law is 18 U.S.C. Section 371 that addresses conspiracy against the United States.
The “defraud part of section 371 criminalizes any willful impairment of a legitimate function of government, whether or not the improper acts or objective are criminal under another statute.” United States v. Tuohey, 867 F.2d 534, 537 (9th Cir. 1989).
In addition Section 594 provides that:
“Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, at any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing such candidate, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”
Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of the panels investigating Russian election interference, said he wanted to question “everyone that was at that meeting.”
Donald Trump Jr. provided his third statement on his meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton last June, tweeting that he “had to listen” after the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had made such assurances.
“Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent,” he tweeted. “Went nowhere but had to listen.”
he story first broke on Saturday, when The New York Times revealed the existence of the meeting between Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, and Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. said in an initial statement Saturday that the June gathering at Trump Tower “was a short introductory meeting” that focused on “a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government.”
He made no mention of the assurance from Veselnitskaya that she could provide damaging information on Clinton.
Times of the promise following the Saturday story confirming the meeting’s existence. Although it was unclear whether Veselnitskaya produced any damaging information on Clinton, the sources who spoke with the Times said she was expected to provide such knowledge.
In Trump Jr.’s second statement, he confirmed that the meeting was taken on the premise that Veselnitskaya had such information — and that the adoption issue was not what he believed was the purpose of the meeting