When Is It Don Jr.’s Time in the Barrel?

Back in December, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee sent the Office of Special Counsel an official transcript copy of Roger Stone’s testimony, as per the office’s request. About a month later, Roger Stone was indicted on multiple counts, including five for making false statements to Congress. On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee approved a move to send “more than 50 transcripts from its Russia investigation interviews to [Robert] Mueller.” Those transcripts include interviews with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, and Trump’s former bodyguard, Keith Schiller.

It would not be shocking if new indictments follow shortly.

The new chairman of the committee, Democrat Adam Schiff of California, presented an ambitious agenda to get to the bottom of the president’s financial entanglements with foreign powers and entities.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday a broad investigation his committee would undertake “beyond Russia” into whether President Donald Trump’s financial interests are driving his actions.

Schiff said the investigation would “allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration.”

“That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else,” Schiff told reporters after the House Intelligence Committee’s first meeting in the new Congress.

In a statement, Schiff said the investigation would include a continued probe into Russia’s actions during the 2016 election and contacts between the Russia and Trump’s team, as well as an examination of “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.”

Schiff said the investigation, which could involve additional congressional committees, would also look at whether Trump or his associates have “sought to influence US government policy in service of foreign interests” and any potential obstruction into the various investigations.

The president responded with something approaching panic: “[Rep. Schiff] has no basis to do that. He’s just a political hack who’s trying to build a name for himself…No other politician has to go through that. It’s just presidential harassment and it’s unfortunate, and it really does hurt our country.”

Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are constrained in what they can say about non-public testimony, but several of them have made it clear that Donald Trump Jr. probably committed perjury during his appearances before them.

It’s not just the intelligence committees, either. Senate Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons (D-DE) has been arguing since May 2018 that Don Jr. lied during testimony before his panel. He made that allegation in a letter to then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, in which he wrote “I am deeply concerned that, based on new information we learned this week, Donald Trump Jr. provided false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

In that case, the new information contradicted Don Jr.’s sworn testimony that he was not aware of any “foreign governments other than Russia offering or providing assistance to the Trump campaign.”

His comments are not consistent with a reported meeting he had in August 2016, Coons said.

“This testimony is contradicted by multiple recent news reports that three months before the election, Mr. Trump Jr. and campaign adviser Stephen Miller met with George Nader, an emissary for the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia; Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media specialist linked to Israeli intelligence and the Emirati royal court; and Erik Prince, a campaign donor and private security contractor with business in the Middle East,” Coons wrote.

It’s doubtful that Don Jr. was consistently truthful in his testimony. He may have lied about a fairly wide variety of subjects which include his foreign contacts, the extent of his involvement in a plan to build a tower in Moscow, his meeting with Aleksandr Torshin at a National Rifle Association conference in Kentucky, and many of the details surrounding the infamous meeting in Trump Tower with Kremlin-affiliated Russians, including whether his father was informed about it beforehand.

It’s hard to say how Trump will react if his son is indicted for perjury, and I suspect that the Office of Special Counsel will not want to take that step without at the same time making its case against the president.

Any perjury charges against Jared Kushner could be just as explosive, and there’s at least some reason to believe he could be vulnerable, too. As for others who may have lied to Congress, they’ll have the option of cooperating with Mueller.

You can call this “presidential harassment,” but lying under oath is a crime, even when you do it to help the president. It hasn’t been a good option for George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen or Roger Stone. Why should Don Jr. and Jared Kushner fare any better?

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com