As Don Jr. lawyers up, words like ‘collusion’ and ‘treason’ fly

‘It looks like clear proof of collusion,’ says Watergate prosecutor

Following the latest explosive details about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer during last year’s campaign, in which he hoped to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton, legal experts are saying the encounter could be proof that “collusion”—or even “treason”—took place.

Trump Jr. confirmed the New York Times‘ initial reports that he attended the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya (infamous for challenging the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers) at Trump Tower, along with then-campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

However, Trump Jr. and Manafort have since lawyered up, with the Times reporting Monday that Jr. “was informed in an email” that Veselnitskaya’s promised dirt on Clinton “was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”

In the wake of the Monday’s report, the government ethics watchdogs at CREW said it would be “hard to overstate how huge this is.”

MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, Ari Melber, laid out the legal implications on Twitter:

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson called the latest revelations a “legal game-changer” because it shows top members of the Trump campaign—in this case the president’s own son—willing to accept information believed to be coming from a foreign government.

“Despite what Trump apologists may say, it is not normal practice for a campaign to welcome information undermining an opponent, regardless of the source,” explained Robinson. “In 2000, the Al Gore campaign was anonymously sent briefing books and a video that George W. Bush had used to prepare for an upcoming debate. Gore campaign officials immediately turned the material over to the FBI—which opened a criminal investigation.”

Trump Jr.’s lawyer claims the reports are “much ado about nothing,” but former assistant Watergate special prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks disagrees.

“It is collusion with a foreign adversary if they were working together to get the information from the Russian government,” she said Monday night on MSNBC. “And that’s what this looks like, it looks like clear proof of collusion.”

But even before Monday’s revelations, there was talk of treason among legal experts.

“This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States,” said Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, on Sunday. “We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”

“This is unacceptable,” he added. “This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.”

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Jessica Corbett is a Common Dreams staff writer.

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2 Responses to As Don Jr. lawyers up, words like ‘collusion’ and ‘treason’ fly

  1. Tony Vodvarka

    May I ask what bloody difference would it make if a Russian gave evidence that the Clinton gang fraudulently stole the Democratic primary or it came from a source within the DNC that was shot in the back soon after its release for his efforts, as long as it is true? The contents of the disclosures have not been denied; the perpetrators are furious that they were revealed. And what of the murder of Seth Rich? Liberals like purple-garbed Soros-funded Amy Goodman are running around like chickens with their heads cut off screaming, “the Russians are coming!”, endlessly repeating a transparently fraudulent claim, and are entirely oblivious to the possibility (backed by some evidence) that the rotten DNC might be guilty of the ultimate corruption.

  2. Tony Vodvarka

    May I please add: Do these liberals who obviously are attempting to bring down Trump by impeachment realize that if they are successful, they will provide the party of hyenas that now controls both the Senate and House and the Supreme Court with a politically savvy and motivated Christian Dominionist leadership in place of our present shambolic, incompetent and directionless figurehead who would probably bring defeat upon the Republicans in the mid-term elections? This sort of minority government has been the dream of the far-right for generations and it is the insanity of our present politics that it may be brought about by the efforts of our snowflake “left”.