11 Julio 2017 17:05
The Russia scandals just keep coming...
For all the ‘fake news’ deflections and scandals at The White House since Donald Trump took office, the one issue that can’t be shaken off is suspected Russian intervention during last year’s election campaign.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, has found himself smack bang in the middle of a political bombshell after it was revealed, in a series of New York Times reports, that he agreed to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer to acquire damning information about Hillary Clinton, courtesy of the Russian government. Trump Jr. was contacted via email by an acquaintance who told him that the information would be ‘part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.’
Now, Trump Jr. has been forced to release an email chain on Twitter that shows he welcomed an opportunity by the Russian government to damage Clinton's campaign.While this may seem like another day, another Russian controversy, such revelations could have huge implications for the future of the Trump administration. Here we break down how the Donald Trump Jr. scandal has evolved. What do we know so far? Donald Trump Jr. received an email from an acquaintance, a publicist named Rob Goldstone, who his father had met at a Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. Goldstone asked Trump Jr. if we would be interested in getting hold of some dirt the Kremlin claimed to have on Hillary Clinton ahead of the election campaign. To which Trump Jr. agreed. The meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya took place at the Trump Tower in New York on 9 June 2016, before the US election in November, and was attended by Jared Kushner, married to Ivanka Trump, and the US president’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, as well. What don’t we don’t know? What actually happened during the meeting. Trump Jr.’s account of events continues to change. He initially claimed Veselnitskaya simply wanted to talk about sanctions relating to an adoption policy and claimed that he didn’t even know the identity of the person he would be meeting. But he then later admitted that he was promised information about Clinton before the meeting, but that 'no meaningful information' was obtained. Furthermore, Trump Jr. was told that the meeting was part of a wider Russian government effort to help his father get elected, details that were omitted. Although no solid accounts of the events in that room are known, what is clear is that President Trump’s dismissal of Russian involvement in the run up to the election is looking less convincing. We also don’t know what Kushner and Manfort’s roles were, if any, in the meeting. And whether President Trump was involved in any way. What was in Trump Jr.'s email chain?
Goldstone's email to Trump Jr., which he released on Twitter, says 'the crown prosecutor of Russia' (which does not exist) 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 the US president.
Mr Trump Jr.'s reply reads: "If it's what you say, I love it."
In a later email, Goldstone describes Veselnitskaya as a 'Russian government attorney', meaning that she works directly with the Kremlin.
What are the implications? These revelations are very serious. The Trump campaign is currently being investigated by FBI special prosecutor, Bob Mueller, for suspected collusion with Russia during the US election. Additionally, British spy agency GCHQ flagged up suspicious meetings between Trump aides and supposed Russian agents at the end of 2015. And, senior Trump associates were in contact with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, during the campaign. While Trump has refuted allegations that this amounts to collusion, his son’s meeting with Veselnitskaya is particularly problematic. Trump Jr. was aware that the Kremlin was gathering compromising information about Clinton, but did not tell the FBI, and went ahead with the meeting.
Here's my statement and the full email chain pic.twitter.com/x050r5n5LQ
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
[caption id="attachment_4697" align="aligncenter" width="300"] (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)[/caption]Are there legal ramifications? There could be. If the FBI conclude that there was active collusion with Russia in the election campaign, the president could face charges of treason and espionage. Trump Jr. could also have violated an election campaign finance law that stipulates against any kind of contribution from foreign nationals. This means that anything of value, be it money, information or assistance, from foreigners in order to influence a campaign’s outcome is strictly prohibited. What next? We wait for more scoops and reports to unfold, and await Mueller’s verdict on Russian collusion in the future. What seems clear is that speculation about White House-Russia ties isn’t going away anytime soon.