martes, 11 de julio de 2017

Trump Jr. delivers ‘smoking gun’ to Mueller

Robert Mueller has been on the job for less than two months leading the federal probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. | Getty

The email chain released by the president’s son shows an intent to collude with Russia, veteran prosecutors and white-collar defense attorneys say.


Donald Trump Jr. may have just given Robert Mueller “smoking gun” evidence signaling his father’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election, according to veteran prosecutors and white-collar defense attorneys experienced in Washington scandals.

The president’s oldest son — in a surprise Tuesday tweet — shared what he said was a full email chain from June 2016 detailing his plans to set up a meeting with a Russian government lawyer who was willing to share damaging material about Hillary Clinton.

Two of Trump’s most senior campaign advisers — Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort — are also included in the “private and confidential” email exchange, which the lawyers interviewed by POLITICO say exposes them to the same potential federal criminal statutes as Trump Jr., including prohibitions on the solicitation or acceptance of anything of value from a foreign national, as well as a conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The smoking gun, according to the attorneys, is the wording throughout the emails that Trump Jr. exchanges with a broker for one of his father’s former Russian business partners. At one point, Trump Jr. responds “love it” at the prospect of material that would “incriminate” Clinton. In addition, the source of the material says the offer of the material is “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“Extremely damaging,” said former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg. “Certainly shows an intent to collude with Russian government.”

Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who worked with one of Mueller’s top deputies prosecuting Enron executives in the early 2000s, said the email chain "is very significant legally as it at least opens up the question of illegal campaign benefits from Russian sources, and the email is quite strong evidence of DJT Jr's intent toward Russia."

Buell, now a law professor at Duke University, said the Trump Jr. email exchange also had significant political resonance. “Pressure on Congress is rising to refuse to go along with the idea that collusion is an imagined problem. We get told ‘nothing burger’ and we end up getting a Whopper,” he said, referring to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’ insistence over the weekend that the original media reporting was a non-story.

Trump Jr., who has hired New York criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas as his personal attorney for Russia-related matters, has denied any wrongdoing.

Congress reads it. Do you?

Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.


By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Mueller has been on the job for less than two months leading the federal probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, though he’s surrounded by a team that includes FBI agents and Justice Department attorneys who have been on the underlying election hacking case for more than a year.

Mueller has the power to bring criminal indictments as part of his work, but legal experts say it will take significant time — a year or more, even — before he reaches that point. In the meantime, Trump Jr. and all the other key figures in the case are likely to be called in for interviews and potentially grand jury testimony.

A white-collar Washington lawyer who is representing a client mired in the Russia probe said there’s little doubt Mueller’s team welcomes what Trump Jr. just delivered about his Russia meeting via social media — that is, if they didn’t already have the messages through their own investigation.

“They’ve been handed a smoking gun,” the attorney said. “What none of us know is what else he’s got. He may have had all these emails already. He may have reams of paper. There’s no way to know what’s under the water line in terms of this investigation.”

The attorney, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his work for an individual involved in the case, said Trump Jr. may be most at risk of legal repercussions because of his admission that he was willing to meet with the Russian attorney to obtain dirt on Clinton.

“I think he’s walked himself into a potential criminal offense here,” the lawyer said. But the disclosures could also be trouble for Kushner and Manafort since they are copied on the exchange and Trump Jr. at one point explains he’ll be bringing them along to the meeting at Trump Tower.

“They’re in the soup too,” the attorney said.

Trump Jr. and a spokesman for President Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, have insisted that Trump himself wasn’t aware of the meeting that his son and the other senior campaign aides ultimately took with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.

No hay comentarios.:

Publicar un comentario