A little more than a month ago, Mike Lofgren wondered why so many in the press were reluctant to use the “t” word when it comes to the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. With the release of the email chain between Donald Trump, Jr. and Rob Goldstone setting up a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, there are those who are using the word “treason,” and it’s not just reporters.
Tim Kaine: “We’re now beyond obstruction of justice…this is moving into perjury…and potentially treason.” pic.twitter.com/DikxAnWykC
— Axios (@axios) July 11, 2017
Given that Senator Tim Kaine has a reputation as a scrupulously honest politician and is the opposite of a bomb-throwing extremist, this is something to take seriously.
Here is the crux of what Goldstone told Donald Jr. from the initial email on June 3, 2016:
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin Agalarov’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would 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 – helped along by Aras and Emin.
Donald Jr. responded by initially agreeing to speak to Emin via phone and said, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” Following that call, the two continued to email in order to set up the meeting with Veselnitskaya. On his final reply in this chain of emails, Donald Jr. copied the whole thing to Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. In other words, he lied again when he told the NYT that they were unaware of the substance of the meeting.
What we now know is that since early June, at least these three members of the Trump campaign not only agreed to meet with someone representing the Russian government who was prepared to share “very high level and sensitive information” about Hillary Clinton, they also knew that Moscow was prepared to “support” Trump in the election. That makes almost everything they’ve said about the Russian investigation over the last few months a lie. For example, here’s Don Jr. about two weeks after the meeting with Veselnitskaya occurred.
FLASHBACK: Don Jr. July 24, 2016. On the Clinton campaign’s claims that the Russians were helping Trump: “It’s disgusting. It’s so phony.” pic.twitter.com/xnD386ewMq
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 11, 2017
Here’s another interesting person who decided it was time to use the “t” word:
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman says Trump Jr. emails are “almost a smoking cannon.” Told me “there’s no question this is treason.”
— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) July 11, 2017
At this point, the “smoking cannon” isn’t pointed directly at the president. There is no proof that he knew about this email exchange or the meeting on June 9th. It is simply impossible to imagine that he didn’t.