Monday, July 10, 2017

Weaving a Tangled Web

Trump Jr. shot holes all through a lot of denials of Russian contacts during the campaign. And I thought all he shot were innocent animals. Nice going Trumpito.

On “Fox News Sunday” on Jan. 15, when Pence passed along Michael Flynn's faulty information about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the campaign, Pence also denied any contact between the campaign and the Kremlin or Russian meddlers.

Poor Mike Pence. They don't tell him anything. Plausible deniability or they just don't like him?

DICKERSON: Just to button up one question, did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?

MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.

So, The Donald Jr, Manafort and Kushner took a meeting with someone whom they had no idea the identity of.

The question of what Trump Jr. really knew about her is “an investigable issue,” Bauer, who was also White House counsel under Barack Obama, told me. “It’s very difficult to believe that the son of a presidential candidate and the senior members of his campaign would go into a meeting with someone whose identity is unknown to them. Investigators will certainly not take that at face value.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has already said the committee’s probe will seek to interview all attendees at the meeting, presumably in part to establish what was known about Veselnitskaya before Trump Jr. and the others met with her. Bauer told me that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation will likely try to establish the same. “It’s going to be an uphill battle for them to say they routinely took meetings with people who suggested they had useful information without checking their identities,” Bauer said.

I've been seeing this notion put out by the WH lately that even if they did collude with the Russians it's not illegal. Yes, it's gone from no collusion to what's the big deal. Anyway, happy to see this. 

“It does not help their case that you have a very specific operational instance where the campaign decided it was prepared to welcome assistance from a Russian source,” said Bauer, who has previously argued in a series of posts that the law prohibits cooperation with foreign nationals to influence a U.S. election. “You are not permitted to solicit or accept anything of value from a foreign national to influence an election. You cannot enter into a conspiracy with a foreign national to influence an election.”

“What was precisely her connection to the Russian government?” Bauer said. “Investigators are going to try to dig as deeply as possible here.” But Bauer added that it might not even have to be established that she did “report back to Moscow” for this to rise to the level of accepting help from a foreign national in influencing an election. Bauer concluded: “This should draw an awful lot of investigative energy.”

Update: Bauer has just posted his own piece on the significance of these events right here.

It is, it is illegal.

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