How is this not collusion with a foreign power to win an election?
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman and the now-indicted Paul Manafort, gave an interview in Moscow on Sunday. Bloomberg News has the write-up, and hoo boy, are there some good details:
“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,” Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it'll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” he added, according to her.
Veselnitskaya also said Trump Jr. requested financial documents showing that money that allegedly evaded U.S. taxes had gone to Clinton's campaign. She didn't have any and described the 20-minute meeting as a failure.
The issue Trump Jr. referred to was the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that slapped sanctions on various high Russian officials and reportedly enraged Vladimir Putin. Veselnitskaya says she had gone to the Trump Tower meeting to lobby against it.
If the account she related on Sunday is true, then she and Trump Jr. discussed a specific quid pro quo in that meeting — dirt on Hillary Clinton that the Trump campaign could use to smear her before the election in exchange for a promise to do something about the Magnitsky Act when Donald Trump became president.
It really is that simple.
This was also interesting:
In the interview, Veselnitskaya said she sent her memo to Goldstone in advance so Trump Jr. could familiarize himself with the issues, but he seemed not to have done so. When she began laying out the case against the Ziffs, she said that he asked: “This money the Ziffs got from Russia, do you have any financial documents showing that this money went to Clinton's campaign?”
She didn't and the meeting quickly fell apart.
Maybe Trump Jr. never got the memo from Rob Goldstone, the go-between who arranged the meeting. But if he did, and he didn't familiarize himself with it, that means he went into this meeting with foreign nationals he had been specifically told ahead of time had information coming from the Russian government, and he did absolutely nothing to understand what they were coming to talk to him about. All he heard was that they might have dirt on a campaign opponent, and he ran right into the meeting hoping to hear more about it.
What an absolutely dumb, irresponsible thing to do.
At worst, Trump Jr. is guilty of colluding with a foreign government to influence an election. But at best, he is guilty of being colossally, galactically bone-headed.